Add four more names to the short list of humans who have traveled beyond the edge of the Earth. On Wednesday evening, Commander Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski exploded in space aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon as part of the Inspiration4 mission.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 engines came to life at 5:03 p.m. PT, and made their way through the Florida night sky. This is the first time that a mission has launched a crew made up of ordinary citizens– there are no professional astronauts on board. as the rowdy SpaceX team celebrated every step of the launch.
About 10 minutes away, the Falcon 9 rocket returned to Earth, landing on a SpaceX drone parked in the Atlantic Ocean. It was a flawless comeback, a feat that has become customary for Elon Musk’s core reusable SpaceX fleet booster.
Two and a half minutes after returning from the first leg to Earth, Crew Dragon parted ways from the second leg. As the live camera switched to views inside the spaceship, a stuffed golden retriever doll began to float around the cockpit – a mascot for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, for which the mission aims. to raise $ 200 million.
“Few have come before, and many are about to follow,” Isaacman said in his first communication with SpaceX Mission Control after launch.
“The door is open now, and it’s pretty amazing,” he said.
Civilians, tourists, astronauts
The space has seen a number of high profile and incredibly wealthy tourists over the past few months. The so-called “billionaire space race” began in July, when Richard Branson set up histowards the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere. Soon after, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos rolled around his rocket a little further. Whether they went to “space”, however, has been the subject of heated debate. Most space observers agree that these short suborbital journeys are not quite the same as getting into low earth orbit.
There will be no debate on the Inspiration4 mission. This flight takes the crew of four higher than Bezos or Branson and is different from those flights in essentials, even though it was funded by another billionaire in Isaacman.
Whenin February, Isaacman purchased the entire flight and donated three of the Crew Dragon seats to “members of the general public”. He offered two seats at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, choosing Arceneaux, a childhood cancer survivor who now works as a medical assistant at the hospital and acts as a medical officer on Inspiration4.
The second was offered in a raffle for those who donated to the hospital. The seat was won by a friend of Sembroski’s, who offered him the seat. Sembroski is the mission specialist and will help manage the payload science experiments.
Proctor, professor of geology at South Mountain Community College, won an online competition hosted by Isaacman to complete the crew. She is the first black woman to pilot a spaceship.
However, the mission is more than just a ride for space tourists. The four members have undergone months of intense training, far more than those who will fly with Bezos’ Blue Origin or Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and they will perform science experiments during the three-day trip.
The spaceship is going orbit 585 kilometers (approximately 363 miles) above Earth, about 100 miles away from the International Space Station. Physiological data from the crew will be collected to assess changes in behavior and cognition, and there will be “research-grade” analysis of members’ heart rate, blood oxygen saturation and sleep quality. of the team.
, a transparent dome at its top, which will offer passengers an incredible view of the Earth. This is the first time the cupola has been used in flight – the space is usually reserved for the ISS docking tools. Expect to see stunning photos of our giant blue marble in the coming days.
By flying above the orbital height of the ISS, SpaceX and the crew are also taking a risk. The Dragon capsule, whether equipped for the crew or for supply races, has never reached such heights. Testing your limits on Earth is one thing, but space is inherently risky, as countless NASA missions since the Mercury era attest.
The team will spend three days in orbit, circling the Earth every 90 minutes. It is expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere on Saturday, scorching hot, before slamming down off the coast of Florida.
It is also one of the busiest periods in the history of human spaceflight. Over the next few days, 14 human beings will be in orbit, including three members stationed on the Chinese space station, seven on the ISS and now all four on the Inspiration4 flight. This has been touted as an all-time record for space population, but there is debate. During Branson’s suborbital flight, the number of people in “space” was often cited as “16,” but the definition of where space begins is a bit hazy.
Yet if the door is now open for private citizens to go to space, as Isaacman believes, that record will be broken within the next decade.