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Astronaut Eytan Stibbe set to depart from ISS tonight, head back to Earth

Israel’s Eytan Stibbe enters the International Space Station, on April 9, 2022. (Screenshot/SpaceX)
Israel’s Eytan Stibbe enters the International Space Station, on April 9, 2022. (Screenshot/SpaceX)

The crew of the first fully private mission to the International Space Station is set to leave the orbiting laboratory and head back to Earth.

The three businessmen and a former NASA astronaut spent more than two weeks on the station on a history-making mission organized by startup company Axiom Space.

A SpaceX capsule is scheduled to undock from the ISS at 2:55 a.m. Israel time (GMT+2) for the return trip, before landing in the ocean off the coast of Florida on Monday around 8:00 p.m. in Israel.

The four men — three who paid tens of millions of dollars each for the rare chance to take part in the mission, and former astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who holds dual US-Spanish citizenship — were originally scheduled to spend only eight days on the space station. But bad weather on Earth forced repeated delays in their return.

Private passengers Larry Connor, an American who heads a real estate company, Canadian businessman Mark Pathy and Israeli former fighter pilot and entrepreneur Stibbe blasted off from Florida on April 8, reaching the ISS a day later.

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