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The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule returned to earth after delivering a waterboard of supplies for the International Space Station, returning four U.S. astronauts and two Russian cosmonauts to Earth in a minor fire just after landing.
The capsule landed on a course in water in the Pacific Ocean, about six miles off Mexico’s Baja California coast. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration reported that the capsule was not in distress after the landing.
SpaceX and NASA marked the return to Earth with a ceremonial cake-cutting, and Crew Dragon will be put on display for the public until it is destroyed and recycled.
The astronauts who traveled aboard the Dragon are Greg Chamitoff, Jeffrey Williams, Nicole Mann and Megan McArthur, the first American to fly in space on a Russian Soyuz vehicle, making her case for being a U.S. astronaut candidate. NASA originally ordered one SpaceX trip with three Americans. But demand crashed NASA’s launch system and the Soyuz was bumped. NASA, then under President Barack Obama, opted for two cargo missions to the International Space Station, which has its own re-supply ships. Commercial flights are free, which is why U.S. astronauts could finally fly to the station in 2017. The SpaceX mission lasted five days; the Soyuz spent 14 days.
NASA plans to keep paying the Russian Federal Space Agency $70 million a seat for each crew member until SpaceX can prove its Dragon can fly safely, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.
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