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Astronauts on SpaceX's Crew-1 Dragon capsule are now scheduled to return to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) early Sunday.
NASA and SpaceX have delayed the crew's return twice now due to bad weather; the four astronauts were initially scheduled to return on Wednesday following a sixth-month operation.
"SpaceX and NASA are targeting Saturday, May 1 at 8:35 p.m. EDT…for Dragon to autonomously undock from the [ISS] and splashdown off the coast of Florida on Sunday, May 2 at approximately 2:57 a.m. EDT…completing its first six-month operational mission to the Station," a statement on SpaceX's website reads.
The decision to delay the crew's landing for a second time since Wednesday comes "following a review of the forecast weather conditions in the splashdown zones off the coast of Florida, which predicted wind speeds above the return criteria," a blog post on NASA's website reads.
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"Crew Dragon is in great health on the space station, and teams now forecast ideal conditions for both splashdown and recovery during the weekend," the blog post states.
NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi, departed from the Kennedy Space Center on Nov. 15, when SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launched the Crew Dragon. The spacecraft and arrived at the ISS on Nov. 17.
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"Gratitude, wonder, connection," Glover wrote in a Friday tweet on his 45th birthday. "I’m full of and motivated by these feelings on my birthday, as my first mission to space comes to an end. This orbiting laboratory is a true testament to what we can accomplish when we work together as a team. Crew-1 is ready for our ride home!"
Astronauts will return to Cape Canaveral and Houston upon landing, and the Dragon capsule "will be inspected and refurbished for future human spaceflight missions," according to SpaceX.
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The reusable capsule can carry up to seven passengers and is the first private spacecraft to ever carry humans to the ISS; SpaceX has been working with NASA to create fully reusable launch systems that can send humans and cargo to space.
Viewers can stream astronaut's return to Earth live on SpaceX's website, NASA's website, NASA television and the NASA app.
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"This will be the first night splashdown of a U.S. crewed spacecraft since Apollo 8’s predawn return in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 27, 1968, with NASA astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders," the NASA blog post states.
Crew-1 is the first of six crewed NASA-SpaceX missions that aim to launch astronauts from American rockets on American soil, according to NASA.
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