The crew of the first private flight to ISS headed back to Earth, On Monday, the crew of the first wholly private expedition to the International Space Station flew back to Earth from the orbiting laboratory.
On a historic journey organized by startup company Axiom Space, the three businessmen and a former NASA astronaut spent more than two weeks on the station.
The SpaceX capsule was planned to land in the water off the coast of Florida at roughly 1:00 p.m. local time after undocking from the ISS at 0110 GMT (1700 GMT).
The four men, three of whom spent tens of millions of dollars for the rare opportunity to participate in the mission, were only supposed to stay on the space station for eight days.
However, bad weather on Earth compelled them to postpone their return several times.
Private passengers Larry Connor, a US citizen who runs a real estate company, Mark Pathy, a Canadian businessman, and Eytan Stibbe, an Israeli former fighter pilot, and entrepreneur, took off from Florida on April 8 and arrived at the ISS the next day.
The fourth passenger is former astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who holds dual US-Spanish citizenship.
According to a NASA blog, once on board, the men carried out a series of studies in collaboration with Earth-bound research organizations, including cardiac health and cognitive performance in zero gravity.
Pathy spent a lot of time in the iconic observation cupola of the station, shooting the Earth from a distance of 250 miles (400 kilometres).
The project was given the name Ax-1 in honor of Axiom Space, which acted as a form of space travel agency, paying SpaceX for two-way transportation and NASA for use of the orbiting facilities.
A second mission, Ax-2, has already received NASA’s approval in principle.
Following the departure of the Ax-1 crew, the ISS was left with seven people: three Americans, a German, and three Russians.
A piloted SpaceX Dragon spaceship will make its fifth sea landing on Monday.
SpaceX, which is owned by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, is currently transporting NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station on a regular basis.
Musk’s business flew another totally private trip last year, but it only orbited the Earth for three days and did not communicate with the International Space Station.