SpaceX’s success, culminating in an undamaged splash down in the Atlantic, will surely see the start of manned flights in Dragon spaceships

The Crew Dragon spacecraft currently in orbit round the Earth has a single occupant, a test dummy called Ripley, named after the astronaut heroine of the film Alien. As human presences go, it is not much. Yet the spaceship’s flight represents a milestone in US manned spaceflight.

Almost eight years since its last astronauts flew on the space shuttle Atlantis, the US is now on the threshold of returning astronauts to space. Success with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon this week, culminating in an undamaged splash down in the Atlantic on Friday, will surely see the start of manned flights in Dragon spaceships.

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