It was a tense two days as a small crew of astronauts navigated their return to Earth.
Amid ocean tides and missed deadlines, the most recent SpaceX landing was fraught with peril.
And even noted scientist Elon Musk admitted he asked for God’s favor for the astronauts.
The Crew Dragon capsule, Musk’s latest effort in space exploration through his SpaceX company, was launched from Florida months ago.
Two NASA astronauts, Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley, formed the capsule’s crew travelling to the International Space Station and back.
After spending two months in space, Behnken and Hurley were ready to return home. But their journey back to Earth was dangerous and full of tension for their families and even their employer.
As the founder of SpaceX, Musk was fully aware of his responsibility to bring the two astronauts home, even when their original plans fell through.
“You know, I’m not very religious but I prayed for this one,” Musk confessed.
Musk could only watch—and pray—as Behnken and Hurley navigated the treacherous return to Earth that ended with a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico just off the coast of Florida.
Musk has previously said that he is not “religious,” stating that he “didn’t even pray when [he] almost died of malaria,” but he admits to praying before other launches and landings.
He knows the weight of his work and how important it is to keep his astronauts safe—and knows what a joyous occasion a safe landing is!
“I think this is something that the whole world can take some pleasure in and can really look at this as an achievement of humanity,” added Musk.
“These are difficult times when—you know, there’s not that much good news—and I think this is one of those things that universally good no matter where you are on planet Earth, this is a good thing, and I hope it brightens your day.”
The astronauts shared Musk’s optimism, expressing their excitement about the safe landing and the possibilities opened up by their journey.
“You should take a moment to just cherish this day, especially given all the things that have happened this year,” said Hurley.
“We’re both super, super proud to have been just a small part of the team that accomplished bringing those spaceflights back to the Florida coast and bringing that capability back to America,” added Behnken.
Musk and others at SpaceX believe that human exploration of the universe will increase exponentially over the next several decades.
“We are entering a new era of human spaceflight, where NASA is no longer the purchaser, owner and operator of all the hardware,” reported NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Bridenstine anticipates “a very robust commercial marketplace for human spaceflight to low-Earth orbit.”
“We also want to…[drive] down costs and [increase] access to space in a way that’s never been seen before.”
“Fundamentally, [this is] a new era in spaceflight, a new era in space exploration,” Musk added.
And as Musk prepares to send more people into space – which will come with an abundance of dangerous situations – it seems that he’s considering the importance of faith.
While Musk has repeatedly suggested that science and faith cannot coexist, his words and actions say otherwise.
It’s important to know the limitations of science, even in the fields of astrophysics and space exploration!
During their return to Earth, the Crew Dragon team faced tricky thruster calculations, a fiery re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere, and a parachute landing that ended with a crowd of civilian boats clustered around the capsule.
“There was some challenges post splashdown,” Hurley admitted. “Folks didn’t feel well, and you know, that is the way it is with a water landing.”
But he and Behnken are now home with their families, enjoying some well-deserved rest after two months in space.
“We’re doing pretty good so far.”
Musk plans to continue sending teams into space over the next several years, with the eventual goal of allowing civilian tourists to board SpaceX spacecrafts and pursue their dreams of space exploration.
“It’s truly our honor and privilege [to be part of this historic movement],” astronaut Hurley concluded. “On behalf of the Dragon [crew], congrats to NASA and SpaceX.”
Keep praying for these astronauts and for Elon Musk as SpaceX continues its program. May God always be glorified in the exploration of His creation!