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SpaceX astronauts expected to return to Earth


SpaceX astronauts expected to return to Earth

NASA astronauts conducting a simulation launch in March
Photo: SpaceX

Following a successful May 30 launch, US astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will conclude NASA’s Demo-2 mission today and return to Earth aboard the SpaceX capsule Endeavour.

After 2011’s Space Shuttle retirement, the US was entirely reliant on Russian Soyuz rockets to ferry astronauts to space. At an initial price of $20 million per seat in 2011, the ticket to ride has since ballooned to over $90 million each, while not providing Washington with an independent launch system to accomplish other goals for its manned space program.

Demo-2 was designed to prove the capabilities of a commercial space vehicle before actual missions commence in 2020. The test flight’s conclusion will prove that NASA made the correct decision to shift their routine low-orbit transportation needs to the commercial sector. With a cost of $55 million per seat, NASA has estimated the commercial development of launch vehicles will save the agency between $20-30 billion in total.

As astronauts prepare for their next launch on a SpaceX rocket, the US space agency has realised a new optimism. With this newly robust launch infrastructure, significant cost savings and recent mission successes, Washington can now fully focus on other goals, such as its Artemis 2024 manned lunar program and the Gateway lunar space station.

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