The all-civilian crew of the historic SpaceX Inspiration4 mission safely splashed down in the Atlantic yesterday, after spending three days in Earth’s orbit.
Yesterday’s Crew Dragon capsule, which was carrying astronauts to space, crashed into the Atlantic off Florida. This marked the end of one of the most important space tourism missions.
SpaceX engineers congratulated their crew for reaching further than the International Space Station (ISS) and the Hubble Telescope with no pilots.
“Welcome home to planet Earth,” Andy Tran, SpaceX quality engineer, spoke to the crew while they were descending. “Your mission has shown the world that space is for all of us and that everyday people can make extraordinary impacts in the world around them.”
“Thank you so much, SpaceX. It was a heck of a ride for us,” replied Jared Isaacman, the billionaire who funded the trip. “We’re just getting started!”
Isaacman, three other people, including an artist and a survivor from cancer made up the Inspiration4 team. They performed some science experiments in orbit, as well as making art and playing the ukelele.
“Because we’re trying to open the frontier for more people and open up space to more humans, we’re going to be bringing more of our humanities with us… along with art and music,” Chris Sembrowski, a passenger, said the following livestream.
The trip raised around £200 million for cancer research and treatment at a children’s hospital in Tennessee, where passenger Hayley Arceneaux was once a patient.
SpaceX boats quickly brought the crew ashore and they were soon recovered. Before being allowed to return home, the new astronauts will have to undergo medical testing and will be treated by a private party.
The Inspiration4 mission is historic for being the first all-civilian spaceflight to orbit. It is remarkable for its length—three days—and for its distance from Earth.
Prior private spaceflights this year from Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins only made it to Earth’s edge for a few minutes, while the Virgin Galactic flight returned to Earth.
On Friday, Jeff Bezos congratulated SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on the flight, marking a cooling in tensions between the two billionaires over their private space race. Blue Origins, Bezos’ private space company, is currently suing NASA over granting a $2.39 million moon lander contract.
There are many more missions planned. The Inspiration4 flight may have been a small step for man but it was undoubtedly an enormous leap for the private aerospace industry.