Israeli astronaut Eitan Stibbe expected to return to Earth tonight

After the detachment of the capsule from the space station was completed, the Israeli astronaut and the rest of the AX-1 mission crew are expected to return to Earth tonight.

 Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe (photo credit: CHRIS GUNN/AXIOM SPACE)
Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe
(photo credit: CHRIS GUNN/AXIOM SPACE)

Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe and the rest of the AX-1 mission crew are expected to return to Earth on Monday night.

The estimated landing time, off the coast of Florida, is 8:00 PM (Israel time), although this depends on many variables, including the weather.

The landing will be preceded by a number of stages, including the entry of the crew into the Dragon capsule on Monday morning at around 01:55, and about two hours later — The capsule will be disconnected from the station and began a long journey to Earth.

The capsule is supposed to land off the coast of Florida using parachutes, with the hit at sea at a speed of about 30 km/h.

Onboard, four teams will be waiting, including engineers and doctors, who will help them get out of the capsule since after landing they can not stand on their own two feet. They are expected to undergo a number of initial medical tests on the ship in the middle of the sea, and from there will be flown for tests at a hospital, to make sure their physical condition is good. There they are expected to meet family and friends soon, who will surely count the minutes and seconds until they get reunited with their loved ones.

Many factors are involved in the process of returning to Earth, including the US Space Agency (NASA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Axiom and SpaceX, along with the US Coast Guard, which is entrusted with creating a sterile landing zone for the spacecraft. The Dragon type has a number of optional landing sites spread along the shores of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Weather conditions such as wave height, wind speed and drift are significant factors in ensuring a safe landing. Due to the fact that all the landing sites had a forecast of strong winds and waves, the crew's return was postponed several times.

Work in space continues

The weather conditions at the time of the initial return date to Earth gave Stibbe several more days in space, which he used to carry out additional educational and scientific activities. In recent days, Stibbe has performed additional tests as part of remote medical trials. 

The 11-person crew aboard the station comprises of (bottom L-R) Denis Matveev, Kayla Barron, Oleg Artemyev, and station Commander Tom Marshburn; (center L-R) Mark Pathy, Eytan Stibbe, Larry Connar, and Michael Lopez-Alegria; (Top L-R) Sergey Korsakov, Raja Chari, and Matthias Maurer. (credit: NASA)The 11-person crew aboard the station comprises of (bottom L-R) Denis Matveev, Kayla Barron, Oleg Artemyev, and station Commander Tom Marshburn; (center L-R) Mark Pathy, Eytan Stibbe, Larry Connar, and Michael Lopez-Alegria; (Top L-R) Sergey Korsakov, Raja Chari, and Matthias Maurer. (credit: NASA)

Stibbe also continued to perform the ILAN-ES experiment that focuses on photographing lightning over different regions of the earth.  In addition, Stibbe managed to film additional educational broadcasts for Israeli students.

Meanwhile, the US space agency (NASA) has updated the new launch date of the Space X Crew 4 mission, which was originally postponed several times due to delays in mission AX-1.