SpaceX launches four people to orbit in first-ever all-civilian mission
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lifted off Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:02 pm EDT Wednesday (5.30 am India time Thursday) carrying four amateur space tourists. The crew includes 38-year-old billionaire Jared Isaacman, 29-year-old cancer survivor Hayley Arceneux, 51-year-old geologist Sian Procotor and 42-year-old Lockheed Martin employee Chris Sembroski.
The Inspiration4 flight is the first-ever crewed mission to orbit without any professional astronauts onboard and marks the debut of Elon Musk’s vision of a new era of space tourism.
The crew will orbit the Earth aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule at an orbital altitude of 575 km above Earth for three days. The capsule will circle the globe once every 90 minutes at roughly 22 times the speed of sound.
The crew will all share a special zero-gravity-friendly toilet located near the top of the capsule and sleep in their seats in a reclined position.
The capsule is expected to do a splashdown landing off the coast of Florida on Saturday.
During the course of the mission, the crew will perform a series of medical experiments – a first-of-its-kind health research initiative to increase humanity’s knowledge on the impact of spaceflight on the human body.
SpaceX will also collect biomedical data and biological samples, including ultrasound scans, from Inspiration4’s four crew members before, during, and after this historic spaceflight.
Isaacman paid an undisclosed sum of money to fund the historic trip. He wants to raise awareness and support for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, a leading pediatric cancer centre in Memphis, Tennessee. So far, the fundraiser has brought in USD 31 million of its USD 100 million goal.