SpaceX made history on Wednesday night with the first orbital launch of an all-civilian crew.
The groundbreaking Inspiration4 mission marks the first significant step toward opening up space travel to so-called “amateur astronauts,” with private space company SpaceX deploying its reusable rocket system to make it happen.
The day after the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket carrying Americans Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Dr. Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski, SpaceX tweeted a link to a page showing the precise location of its Crew Dragon spacecraft as it orbits Earth. Scroll down the page to find the feature, then use the mouse to turn the globe and see where the spacecraft is heading. At the time of writing, it’s just about to pass directly over the U.S. from Texas to New England.
While orbiting 358 miles (575 kilometers) above Earth — more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) higher than the International Space Station — the crew will carry out various scientific experiments designed to advance human health and assist future long-duration spaceflights. They’ll also have time to drink in the jaw-dropping views through the spacecraft’s unique observatory dome.
View from Dragon’s cupola pic.twitter.com/Z2qwKZR2lK
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 16, 2021
Following Wednesday’s successful launch and entry into orbit, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed that he’d spoken to the crew, adding, “All is well.”
Just spoke with @inspiration4x crew. All is well.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 16, 2021
Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the surface of our moon, also tweeted his congratulations to the Inspiration4 crew and those behind the mission, saying: “The world is inspired by the recent entrepreneurial, exceptional, tireless efforts for the furtherance of human spaceflight.” A video of the former astronaut watching Wednesday’s launch accompanied the message.
Congratulations to @inspiration4x and @SpaceX launch! The World is inspired by the recent entrepreneurial, exceptional, tireless efforts for the furtherance of Human SpaceFlight. I am with you in thoughts and spirit. pic.twitter.com/XVzIk4AvX3
— Dr. Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) September 17, 2021
The Inspiration4 mission came about after Isaacman inked a private deal with SpaceX. The Shift4 Payments founder then selected three crewmates, whose costs he covered. Together they’ve spent the last six months undergoing intensive training for the space trip.
When the mission was announced earlier this year, Isaacman said he wanted to use it to raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
The Crew Dragon and its four passengers will stay in space for the next three days before returning to Earth in a splashdown off the Florida coast.