Four historic astronauts are due to return to Earth on April 20 after a week on the International Space Station.
A private SpaceX rocket launched the AX-1 astronauts into orbit on April 8 for a trip to the orbiting laboratory.
The trip, organized by space infrastructure company Axiom, was the first US-led private mission to the ISS and marked the first steps towards a commercial space station.
The Axiom space station could replace the ISS after its retirement at the end of the decade.
Since their arrival at the science laboratory, the astronauts have been conducting experiments.
The crew includes Axis-1 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, Pilot Larry Connor, and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy.
“All of the experiences have literally been out of this world from launch, to orbit, to traversing the hatch in the ISS, traversing the ISS to be able to float through there,” Cdr Connor said during of a broadcast on Earth.
“All the stuff is pretty surreal. The whole experience of looking out the window they call the cupola and a view of Earth – they’ve all been great.
What did they do in space?
The crew performed more than 25 scientific experiments for government and private organizations.
These include the Mayo Clinic, the Montreal Children’s Hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, and the Ramon Foundation.
The results of these experiments will be used to further understanding of health and medicine on Earth, advance technologies and shape the future of space travel.
A series of missions would be conducted by Axiom to prepare for the new space station.
A module will be launched this decade that would be attached to the ISS, creating access for researchers, astronauts and tourists.
Once the ISS is removed from service, Axiom will detach its modules and begin operations on its own.
“The Ax-1 mission represents both the culmination of NASA’s efforts to foster a commercial market in low Earth orbit and the beginning of an era of space exploration that allows more people to fly in more types missions,” NASA said on its website. .
“This partnership changes the arc of human spaceflight history by opening up access to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station to more people, more science, and more business opportunities.”
Coverage of the space station crew departure will begin on Tuesday, April 19 at 3 p.m. UAE time. It will be streamed live on the Axiom and Nasa website.
A farewell ceremony will take place before the crew embarks Dragon spacecraft and the hatch closes at 4:30 p.m.
About two hours later, the spacecraft will undock from the ISS.
Splashdown is scheduled for April 20 at 2:30 p.m. Live coverage of the last leg of the mission will begin an hour earlier.
Updated: April 18, 2022, 11:42 a.m.