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Historic private astronaut mission splashes down off Florida's coast

Bad weather kept the Ax-1 private astronaut crew at the International Space Station a bit longer than expected.

FLORIDA, USA — The first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station officially came to an end when the SpaceX Dragon capsule splashed down Monday afternoon off Florida's coast.

The spacecraft successfully separated from the ISS at 9:10 p.m. Sunday and began its 16-hour return journey. The crew, comprised of Ax-1 commander Michael López-Alegría, pilot Larry Conner and mission specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy spent the last 17 days aboard the ISS.

Credit: AP
In this image from infrared video provided by SpaceX, recovery personnel approach the Dragon space capsule after splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast on Monday, April 25, 2022. Three rich businessmen returned from the International Space Station with their astronaut escort, wrapping up a pricey trip that marked NASA’s debut as a B&B host. (SpaceX via AP)

The mission was in partnership with Axiom Space and SpaceX

The crew, along with more than 200 pounds of science and supplies, splashed down just after 1 p.m. ET. The private crew's return was delayed from its initial departure due to weather conditions.

The Ax-1 crew made history when it docked on April 9 with the ISS as the first-ever private space flight to have a mission at the space station. 

When the crew joined the ISS for its mission, it brought many experiments, including one that had ties to the Tampa Bay area. Moffitt Cancer Center investigators Drs. Patsy McDonald and Derek Duckett partnered with SpacePharma to study stress and DNA damage caused by space travel with the hope of developing therapies to prevent it.

The timing of the crew's return couldn't be better. That's because the docking portal that was occupied by the Dragon Endeavor spacecraft was needed for the upcoming SpaceX Crew-4 mission. Its launch has also faced several delays.

RELATED: Crew-4 mission delayed; NASA to bring home Axiom 1 private astronauts first

RELATED: SpaceX to launch 53 more Starlink satellites to space

You can watch the full SpaceX Dragon capsule splashdown below.

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