Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe is getting yet another extra day on the International Space Station as his return to Earth sees another delay to Monday.
Stibbe had originally been set to come back on Wednesday, but unfavorable weather conditions for a splashdown in the ocean led to the capsule’s return being put off to Sunday, and now again to Monday.
Stibbe and the other members of Axiom-1 — the first-ever all-private mission to the ISS — are now expected to parachute into the ocean off the Florida coast around 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday.
Stibbe, a businessman and former fighter pilot, was one of four astronauts who took off earlier this month from the privately-funded mission that successfully docked at the ISS the next day.
During their stay on the space station, the group stuck to a regimented schedule, which included about 14 hours per day of activities, including scientific research.
The first-ever Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, was killed in 2003 when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry into the atmosphere, killing all seven crew members on board. Members of the Ramon family were on hand when Stibbe’s flight was first announced in 2020, and were also present at the take-off in Orlando.
Stibbe carried with him surviving pages from Ramon’s space diary, as well as mementos from his children.
Unlike the recent, attention-grabbing suborbital flights carried out by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, Axiom says its mission shouldn’t be considered tourism due to its scientific goals.
NASA has hailed the three-way partnership with Axiom Space and SpaceX as a key step towards commercializing the region of space known as “Low Earth Orbit,” leaving the agency to focus on more ambitious voyages deeper into the cosmos.