Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (doing business as SpaceX) is a Hawthorne, California-based American spacecraft manufacturer, space launch provider, and satellite communications corporation. Elon Musk founded it in 2002 with the goal of lowering space transportation costs to enable Mars colonization. It builds the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles, as well as several rocket engines, the Cargo Dragon, crew spacecraft, and Starlink communications satellites.
Four astronauts returned to Earth in a SpaceX capsule on Friday, capping off their nearly six-month mission at the International Space Station with a splashdown in the Atlantic off Florida. Weather in Florida was wet and windy, delaying their return. SpaceX and NASA finally gave the go-ahead, and the three Americans and one Italian left the International Space Station, where they had been stationed since April.
Getting the first few hugs when we get back is really going to be awesome. To provide commercial internet service, SpaceX is developing the Starlink satellite internet constellation. The Starlink constellation became the largest satellite constellation ever launched in January 2020, and as of September 2022, it consists of over 3,000 small satellites in orbit.Bob Hines
Five hours later, the capsule landed in the ocean near Jacksonville, Florida. It carried NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins, the first Black woman to complete a long-term spaceflight, as well as Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency. Last week, SpaceX delivered their replacements.
Before leaving, the astronauts expressed their desire to have a cold drink with ice, eat pizza and ice cream, take a shower, enjoy nature, and, of course, reunite with their families. NASA intended to transport them to Houston as soon as they were free of SpaceX’s recovery ship and back on solid ground.
“Getting the first few hugs when we get back is really going to be awesome,” Hines told reporters earlier in the week. Remaining aboard the space station are three Americans, three Russians, and one Japanese.
To provide commercial internet service, SpaceX is developing the Starlink satellite internet constellation. The Starlink constellation became the largest satellite constellation ever launched in January 2020, and as of September 2022, it consists of over 3,000 small satellites in orbit.
Starship, a privately funded, fully reusable, super heavy-lift launch system for interplanetary and orbital spaceflight, is also being developed by the company. Once operational, it will be SpaceX’s primary orbital vehicle, replacing the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon fleets. It will have the highest payload capacity of any orbital rocket ever built when it makes its debut in 2022, subject to launch license approval.
SpaceX’s accomplishments include being the first privately funded liquid-propellant rocket to reach Earth’s orbit; the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft; the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station; the first vertical take-off and vertical propulsive landing for an orbital rocket booster; the first reuse of such booster; and the first private company to send astronauts to orbit and to the International Space Station. SpaceX has flown and landed the Falcon 9 rocket series more than a hundred times.