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Nasa SpaceX crew return: As Dragon capsule splashes down, a new era begins

<p class="p1">National aeronautics and space administration (Nasa) astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have returned to Earth after a two-month stay on the space station.</p>
<p class="p1">The crew's SpaceX Dragon Capsule splashed down just south of Pensacola on Florida's Gulf coast, the BBC reported.</p>
<p class="p1">The successful end to the crew's mission initiates a new era for the American space agency.</p>
<p class="p1">All its human transport needs just above the Earth will in future be purchased from private companies, such as SpaceX.</p>
<p class="p1">The government agency says contracting out to service providers in this way will save it billions of dollars that can be diverted to getting astronauts to the Moon and Mars.</p>
<p class="p1">Hurley's and Behnken's capsule touched the water shortly after 14.45 EDT (19.45 BST; 18.45 GMT).</p>
<p class="p1">The sight of the vehicle's four main parachutes floating down over the Gulf of Mexico was confirmation the spacecraft had survived its fiery descent through the atmosphere.</p>
<p class="p1">Recovery vessels are now working to make the capsule safe and lift it out of the water. The astronauts will then be able to get out.</p>
<p class="p1">The men will be checked over by medical staff before being flown to shore by helicopter.</p>
<p class="p1">The astronauts' Dragon capsule launched to the space station at the end of May on a Falcon 9 rocket, also supplied by SpaceX.</p>
<p class="p1">Their mission served as an end-to-end demonstration of the astronaut "taxi service" the company, owned by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, will be selling to Nasa from now on.</p>
<p class="p1">The Boeing Corporation is also developing a crew capsule solution but has had to delay its introduction after encountering software problems on its Starliner capsule.</p>.