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SpaceX Dragon astronauts return to Earth in historic splashdown

2020-08-03 18:08 by
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Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley who have come back to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft are safe and have been taken out of the capsule, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

That means the U.S. once again has its own ability to put people in orbit and return them safely. Since retiring its space shuttles in 2011, NASA has had to buy seats for its astronauts on Russian spaceships, but NASA can now rely on an American space taxi that takes off from Florida.

"This was a great day for NASA and a great day for the United States of America," said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in a post-splashdown press conference. "We are entering a new era of human spaceflight where NASA is no longer the purchaser, owner, and operator of all of the hardware. We are going to be a customer — one customer of many customers in a very robust commercial marketplace for human spaceflight to low Earth orbit."

This is the last Crew Dragon test flight so, once SpaceX receives NASA certification, future flights will be regular missions carrying astronauts to the ISS. For NASA itself, it's a major step forward for a Commercial Crew Program with lower costs.

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