Orbital Adventures: Ax-3 Crew’s Farewell, Undocking, and Splashdown Preparations

1. Farewell Ceremony and Departure Preparations
The Expedition 70 and Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) crews bid farewell to the International Space Station in a Friday ceremony as they geared up for their departure on Saturday morning. The four private astronauts, after two weeks of scientific activities, are set to undock inside the SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft from the Harmony module.

2. Final Day of Orbital Adventures
The Ax-3 private astronauts, led by Commander Michael López-Alegría, embarked on their final day aboard the orbital outpost. Their mission included engaging in science and educational activities. After just half a day of packing the Dragon spacecraft, the crew prepared for an early bedtime, anticipating the upcoming undocking and splashdown.

3. Undocking Schedule and Splashdown Plans
The Ax-3 crew is scheduled to undock from the ISS at 6:05 a.m. EST on Saturday, departing from the Harmony module’s forward port. Upon undocking, Commander López-Alegría and his team will parachute inside Dragon to a splashdown site off the coast of Florida. Mission managers await a final weather report before giving the go-ahead for the splashdown.

4. Space Station Commander’s Assistance
ESA’s (European Space Agency) Commander Andreas Mogensen played a crucial role in helping the Ax-3 crew wrap up their mission activities. The focus was on reconfiguring the orbital lab for standard crew operations, with NASA Flight Engineers Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara participating in station emergency gear retrieval and science hardware stowage.

5. Transfer of Research Samples and Hardware
Astronaut Loral O’Hara collaborated with JAXA’s Satoshi Furukawa to transfer research samples from the Cygnus cargo craft into science freezers aboard the ISS. Furukawa then conducted swaps of research hardware within the Columbus laboratory module, supporting botany and biology experiments with minimal astronaut intervention.

6. Progress 85 Resupply Ship Operations
Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub were busy packing the Progress 85 resupply ship, docked to the Zvezda service module’s rear port, with discarded items and trash. The resupply ship is set to undock later this month, concluding its cargo mission.

7. Experiment Hardware Configurations
Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov spent his shift configuring various experiment hardware. This included servicing a camera observing Earth’s atmosphere in ultraviolet wavelengths, charging hardware documenting crew interactions, and deactivating medical gear continuously monitoring crew members’ blood pressure.

8. Collaborative Efforts in Orbital Lab Reconfiguration
The collaborative efforts of the international crew, with members from ESA, NASA, and JAXA, underscore the importance of teamwork in the reconfiguration of the orbital lab. Their activities contribute to maintaining the ISS for standard crew operations.

9. Awaiting Final Weather Report
As the Ax-3 quartet prepares for splashdown, mission managers carefully monitor weather conditions. The final decision for the spacecraft’s return off the coast of Florida hinges on a comprehensive weather report, ensuring a safe conclusion to their orbital adventure.

10. Reflection on Orbital Achievements
The culmination of the Ax-3 mission prompts reflection on the achievements within the orbital outpost. From scientific endeavors to collaborative international efforts, the departure of the private astronauts marks the end of a successful mission and sets the stage for future endeavors in space exploration.


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