SpaceX: successful return of two astronauts to Earth

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Mission successful for SpaceX. The manned capsule sent two astronauts back to Earth on Sunday, a first, in the final stages of a historic mission that began nine weeks ago and could pave the way for the full commercialization of human space flight.

The test mission, undertaken with NASA, took astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. This was the first time a private company had taken humans into space.

The two men landed in the Gulf of Mexico at 2:48 p.m. local time. As the capsule floated over a calm ocean, they received a radio greeting: “Welcome to planet Earth. Thanks for flying SpaceX ”.

It was the first water landing for a US manned shuttle since the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975.

“Today we have written a page of history,” said NASA boss Jim Bridenstine. He said he wanted to repeat this type of public-private partnership for the return to the moon, with the Artemis program, and one day to go to Mars.

Elon Musk’s private space company hopes to pass a test by sending three American astronauts to the ISS for the first fully commercial space flight before the end of September, with NASA paying a fee for each seat. The company has also announced a second mission which will take place early next year.

Sunday’s landing marks the culmination of a plan first developed ten years ago. The United States decided to replace the space shuttle with a new type of space program whereby private companies would be paid a fixed price to develop spacecraft for human flight, with future missions sold on a commercial basis.