In a first, SpaceX has successfully launched the first-ever all-civilian mission to Earth’s Orbit. This is the first time when all the crew members launched into orbit are nonprofessional astronauts. They have been sent to orbit under SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission. Falcon 9 rocket of Elon Musk’s company blasted off with all the crew members from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Among the crew members, all-civilian, are Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Hayley Arceneaux, and Chris Sembroski. About 12 minutes after the takeoff, the Dragon capsule gets separated from the Falcon 9 rocket’s send stage as all four crew members enter the orbit.
The first re-usable rocket returned back to Earth. The multiday trip has been self-funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman for an undisclosed amount. The main aim of this spaceflight is to raise USD 200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. All the crew members, which include a cancer survivor, will spend three days in the capsule while it hovers around in the orbit. During the three days, the capsule will revolve around the earth and complete a circle in around 90 minutes. This means the capsule will be traveling more than 17,500 miles every hour. They will then splash down off the Florida coast.
At the end of three-day-long journey, the spacecraft will dive back into the atmosphere for re-entry and is expected to splash down off the coast of Florida. The splashdown as of now is scheduled for Saturday. But this is expected to be changed if weather or other issues doesn’t allow for the same. This means the splashdown can be both delayed or advanced. The capsule has been prepared for that and in case the splashdown is delayed, there is enough food and supplies for almost a week for all the crew members. SpaceX had originally built the 13-foot-wide gumdrop-shaped spacecraft to carry NASA astronauts. During their three days’ stays in the space, the crew members will have to share a special zero-gravity-friendly toilet.
The toilet is located near the top of the capsule. The crew members will not be able to take shower during these three days and will have to use the same reclining seats as a bed while sleeping. Besides enjoying the amazing view from space, the crew is likely to perform some experiments. This includes the effects of space travel on the human body. All eyes are now on the return of the crew as this is only the third crewed launch for the United States in the past decade. SpaceX hopes that these space travels will boost the company’s aim of space tourism.
Isaacman said that the crew members of Inspiration4 are willing to use the experience of the mission to help future astronauts of civilians who would like to visit space. The historic spaceflight by SpaceX has created quite a few records. The first and most important is that this is the spaceflight with all nonprofessional crew. Also, this included the first Black female pilot of spaceflight. It is pertinent to mention that American investment management billionaire Dennis Tito became the first civilian to self fund a trip in 2001. He had stayed on the International Space Station for eight-day. Six other people visited the ISS after him. But they all had a ride alongside professional astronauts.
Commenting on the successful launch, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said that the mission is a step towards making the space more accessible to those who wish to go. “We are extremely proud that SpaceX was entrusted with the responsibility to fly them. On behalf of every employee of the company, I would like to thank the crew and their families for making us part of their historic journey,” Shotwell said in a statement.