Conquering space, the final frontier, has been humanity’s dream for a long time, and with the help of stalwarts like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, NASA, and others, that dream is fast becoming reality. Humanity’s mastery of space travel is becoming so refined that, tourism of space is no longer a pipe dream, especially as billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson have shown us the way as they went on suborbital trips on their spacecraft. Elon Musk has taken things a bit further, as the maiden all-civilian crew in human history finally launched into space.
The historic flight occurred after SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:04 PM EST. Around nine-and-a-half minutes after liftoff, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket separated from the second stage and returned to Earth, landing on SpaceX’s drone ship “Just Read the Instructions.”
What makes the Inspiration4 flight all the more inspirational (pun intended) is that it is the first mission that comprises entirely of civilians and without any professional astronauts aboard. The mission intends to raise awareness, generate funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and inspire future generations to involve themselves in STEM fields. The crew aimed to raise $200 million in total.
The four-member crew, consisting of billionaire Jared Issacman, childhood bone cancer survivor Haley Arceneaux, Dr. Sian Proctor, founder of Space2Inspire, and Chris Sembroski, a retired officer of the US Air Force (who wants to play the ukulele in space), will spend three days in orbit at an altitude of nearly 575 km and orbit the Earth around 15 times daily, observing outer space from the transparent doe “cupola” present on the Crew Dragon’s nose cone.
The crew will, in the meantime, also conduct research on how space affects the human body. After three days, they will return to Earth in either the Gulf or the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.
Other records were made with the successful launch of the flight as well, including the first private spaceflight by SpaceX, the youngest American citizen to fly into space, and having the first black female spacecraft pilot on the journey. According to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell, this mission paved the way “for a future where space is more accessible to all who wish to go.”
“We are so proud that they entrusted us to fly them,” Shotwell said. “On behalf of all SpaceX employees, I want to thank the crew and their families for allowing us to be a part of their historic mission.”
“Few have come before, and many are about to follow,” Isaacman said, adding that the “door’s open now and it’s pretty incredible.”
SpaceX has grand plans for the future, and Insipration4 was just another step towards the goal of becoming the biggest space organization in the world. It aims to follow the mission’s example and put millions of people in space, ultimately making life multi-planetary and not restricted to Earth.