The historic Inspiration4 space mission has successfully reached orbit after lifting off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida shortly after 8:00PM EDT, entering its orbital trajectory at 8:12PM EDT. The three day mission is the first all-civilian space flight in history.
The mission, which was contracted from SpaceX by billionaire entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, a trained pilot with over 6,000 hours flight time and who is also the mission's commander, is also crewed by geoscientist, science communicator, and trained pilot Dr. Sian Proctor, who is serving as the mission's pilot; childhood cancer survivor and physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux, who will serve as the flight's medical officer; and Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer Chris Sembroski, who will act as a mission specialist during the flight.
The mission was launched to raise money and awareness for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, which treats childhood cancers and other pediatric diseases at no cost to patients' families.
As of the time of this writing, the YouTube livestream of the launch alone has raised $379,993 from viewers.
The four civilian astronauts are riding aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft, a modified version of the standard Crew Dragon capsule that ferries astronauts to the International Space Station.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to see the opening of the Resilience's nose cone, which would expose the docking mechanism a standard Crew Dragon uses to connect with the International Space Station but which is instead equipped with a special window-like bubble called a cupola that provides the Inspiration4 crew with a 360 degree view of space while in orbit.
As our colleagues over at Space.com note, the Crew Dragon Resilience's cupola is the largest single window ever used in space.
Hi, I am Dr. Sian Proctor & I’m a geoscience professor. I’ll be launching into space in 8 days w/ my @inspiration4x crew. I’m looking forward to capturing amazing views of Earth from our @SpaceX cupola.👩🏾🚀🚀🌏#BlackInGeoscienceRollCall #BiGWeek2021 #BIMS #WomenInSTEM #BiGDiversity pic.twitter.com/bW2MUYBQEVSeptember 8, 2021
The problem with the video feed appears to be a downlink communication issue, but the mission is still on track and Resilience is ascending toward its final orbital altitude of 357 miles (575 km) above the Earth's surface. Hopefully the feed will be restored before too long and we can get some quality images and video of Earth from inside the transparent bubble dome.
After its three days in orbit, Resilience and the Inspiration4 astronauts will return to Earth and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.
Speaking of, the first stage booster of the Falcon 9, which has flown into space twice before tonight, successfully landed on the SpaceX drone ship Just Read The Instructions off the Florida coast and is now on its way back to the mainland.
With that, the first all-civilian flight into space is underway. We'll be following the mission during the week, so stay tuned for more news from SpaceX and Inspiration4.
- SpaceX: everything you need to know