SpaceX launches inspiration 4 for an all-civilian orbital mission 


SpaceX became the first-time spacecraft to circle the Earth with an all-amateur crew and no professional astronauts.

It was the first time a spacecraft orbited Earth with an all-amateur team and no professional astronauts.

The crew of two men and two women of the Dragon capsule are going to spend seventy-two hours going round and round the planet from a extremely high orbit — 100 miles (160 kilometres) higher than the International Space Station, and then finally splashing down just off the Florida coast this weekend.

It’s SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s very first entry in the competition for space tourism dollars.

Isaacman is only the third billionaire to launch this summer, following the brief space-skimming flights by Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson and Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos in July.

At age 38, Isaacman made his fortune from a payment-processing company he started in his teenage years.

Joining Isaacman on the Inspiration4 is  Hayley Arceneaux, aged 29, is a childhood bone cancer survivor working as a physician assistant.

She got treated in St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee, where she currently works.

Isaacman has recently pledged $100 million out of his pocket to the hospital and seeks another $100 million in donations.

NASA, which was once opposed to space tourism, is now an avid supporter. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson recently tweeted, “Low-Earth orbit is now more accessible for more people to experience the wonders of space”.

The recycled Falcon rocket launched from the same Kennedy Space Center pad used by the company’s three previous astronaut flights for NASA.

However, this time the Dragon capsule has aimed for an altitude of 357 miles or 575 kilometres which is a little further than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Across the country, all of the SpaceX employees at company headquarters in Hawthorne, California, cheered with full enthusiasm at every flight milestone, including when the spent the first-stage booster landed exactly upright on an ocean platform.

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet Tweeted: “No matter if you’re a professional or not when you get strapped to a rocket and launch into space, we have something in common. All the very best from, well, space.”

Their capsule has already been in orbit: It got used for SpaceX’s second astronaut flight for NASA to the International space station.

The single most significant change is the large domed window at the top in place of the usual space station docking mechanisms.

Isaacman had persuaded SpaceX to take the fully automated Dragon capsule higher than it’s ever been.

Initially, they were reluctant because of the increased exposure to radiation and other potential risks. However, SpaceX later agreed after a thorough safety review.

On the eve of the flight, Isaacman told reporters – “Now, I just wish we pushed them to go higher if we’re going to go to the moon and we’re going to go to Mars and beyond, then we’ve got to get outside of our comfort zone and take the next step in that direction.”

Four hours before the liftoff, the crew of four met with Musk before emerging from SpaceX’s colossal rocket hangar, waving and blowing kisses to their families and company employees, before they got driven off to get into their sleek white flight suits.

Once they arrived at the launch pad, they posed for pictures and bumped gloved fists before entering the elevator and going up.

Unlike NASA missions, the public won’t listen in or watch events unfold in real-time.

Arceneaux hopes to link up with St. Jude patients but keep the conversation from broadcasting live.

SpaceX’s next private trip, scheduled for early next year, will see a retired NASA astronaut escorting three wealthy businessmen to the international space station for a weeklong visit.

The Russians will be launching an actress, film director and a Japanese tycoon to the space station in the coming months.



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