Inspiration4: On Wednesday night (15), at 9:03 pm EDT, SpaceX launched the long-awaited Inspiration4 mission and began a journey into space with a planned duration of three days. This is the first mission made entirely by civilians, with no professional astronauts on board.
Although civilians have visited space and circled our planet before, for example, aboard the NASA space shuttle, the Russian spacecraft Soyuz, the ISS and Mir space stations, and the recent flights by Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin in July this year , this is the first time in history that only civilians make up a space trip.
Inspiration4, named after its four-person team, was born from the idea of raising funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a pediatric research and treatment institution for diseases such as leukemia and other types of cancer.
The crew, currently in orbit, are: Jared Isaacman, 38, founder of financial services company Shift4 Payments; Hayley Arceneaux, 29, an assistant physician at St. Jude’s Hospital, where she treated leg cancer as a child; Sian Proctor, 51, science teacher; and Chris Sembroski, 42, a veteran of the United States Air Force.
The mission was launched from the legendary Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The crew is housed in the Crew Dragon capsule, a highly sophisticated and automated spacecraft that performed services for NASA with manned missions towards the ISS. The capsule, called Resilience, is the second level of Dragon 1, former SpaceX spacecraft, and has significant improvements over its predecessor: it contains a more advanced propulsion system, is capable of carrying up to 7 passengers and a greater amount of cargo. , is equipped with a series of security systems and has an interior design worthy of a science fiction ship, full of sensors and touch screens.
Unlike previous missions, this time Crew Dragon Resilience will not visit the International Space Station. Instead, it will free-fly around the Earth for approximately three days, at an altitude that could reach up to 575 kilometers above the surface, much higher than the ISS orbit, which maintains an average altitude of approximately 400 kilometers.
The Crew Dragon will even fly even higher than the Hubble Space Telescope’s current orbit of approximately 547 kilometers, an altitude that humans have not reached since the telescope’s maintenance missions during the 1990s and early 2000s. Because of these characteristics, Inspiration4 is somewhat similar to the orbital missions of NASA’s Mercury and Gemini programs in the 1960s, which preceded the Apollo missions and took man to the moon between 1969 and 1972.
The Inspiration4 crew has trained extensively over the past six months, from selection in March to take-off, spending a good deal of time in the process of familiarizing themselves with the workings of Crew Dragon and its systems and preparing for the various stages of flight. space. In addition, the mission’s designated commander, billionaire Jared Isaacman, is a qualified pilot who has experience in high-speed flights and potentially hazardous situations.
About 40 minutes before launch time, SpaceX took charge of making the final adjustments to the propulsion and final checks on the spacecraft and weather systems. Deciding to be safe to launch the mission, the rocket was launched and performed a series of steps to lift the capsule into orbit, including separating the first and second stages of the rocket. About an hour later, the capsule fired its thrusters and set the crew on the course they will follow until they return to Earth next Saturday, off the coast of Florida.
Over these three days, the crew will do much more than just enjoy the privileged view of our planet: they are expected to carry out a series of scientific experiments, such as, for example, verifying the consequences of a space flight and microgravity in the organism and obtaining results to enhance future human exploration of space.
Space tourism, which should grow more and more in the coming decades, will certainly be the privilege of extremely wealthy individuals for a long time, but the commercial activity produced in this field has the potential to benefit the rest of humanity more quickly, through, for example, improving communication and data transmission technologies. In that sense, Inspiration4 consolidates SpaceX as a leading company on the space tourism stage and, in addition to previous Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic flights this year, helps build an exciting and dynamic future in Earth orbit and beyond. her.