MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) — The first all-private mission to the International Space Station is due to begin its return trip Sunday evening after a string of delays dragged the mission out for a week longer than expected because of weather and other inopportune circumstances
The mission, called AX-1, was brokered by the Houston, Texas-based startup Axiom Space, which books rocket rides, provides all the necessary training, and coordinates flights to the ISS for anyone who can afford it.READ MORE: NOAA: 'Above Average' 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season, Predicts 6-10 Hurricanes
The four crew members — Michael López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut-turned-Axiom employee who is commanding the mission; Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe; Canadian investor Mark Pathy; and Ohio-based real estate magnate Larry Connor — are slated to leave the space station aboard their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Sunday at 8:55 pm ET. That’s another 24-hour delay from what NASA and Axiom were targeting on Saturday.
They now plan to spend a day free flying through orbit before plummeting back into the atmosphere and parachuting to a splashdown landing off the coast of Florida at about 1 pm ET Monday, according to a tweet from Kathy Lueders, the head of NASA’s human spaceflight program.
AX-1, which launched on April 8, was originally billed as a 10-day mission, but delays have extended the mission by about a week.READ MORE: Insurance Bills Clear Committee, Move To Florida Senate
During their first 12 days on the space station, the group stuck to a regimented schedule, which included about 14 hours per day of activities, including scientific research that was designed by various research hospitals, universities, tech companies and more. They also spent time doing outreach events by video conferencing with children and students.
The weather delays then afforded to them “a bit more time to absorb the remarkable views of the blue planet and review the vast amount of work that was successfully completed during the mission,” according to Axiom.
It’s not clear how much this mission cost. Axiom previously disclosed a price of $55 million per seat for a 10-day trip to the ISS, but the company declined to comment on the financial terms for this specific mission beyond saying in a press conference last year that the price is in the “tens of millions.”MORE NEWS: Florida Tourism Thriving Ahead Of Memorial Day Weekend
(©2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)