SpaceX successfully launched a Crew Dragon capsule with space tourists only on Thursday. This makes it the first fully commercial space mission without professional astronauts. The capsule will be in orbit for three days.
From Inspiration4 mission was successfully launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday night at 2:02 am Dutch time with a Falcon 9 rocket. Four space tourists are on board the Crew Dragon capsule. It is the first space flight in which no professional astronauts participate.
SpaceX’s Used Crew Dragon Capsule Is About ten months ago also deployed to transport four astronauts to the ISS, although occupants of the Inspiration4 space mission will not enter the space station. Instead, the capsule will be in orbit for three days at about 585 kilometers altitude. The crew will circle the Earth every 90 minutes during that period.
The space mission is focused on charity and has to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis. The flight was paid for by Jared Isaacman, a pilot and the founder and CEO of payment provider Shift4 Payments. Two places in the Crew Dragon have also been donated to St. Jude Hospital. The goal is to raise a total of $200 million, of which Isaacman has already donated $100 million.
The first of those two chairs was donated to Hayley Arceneaux, a former St. Jude patient who now works as a doctor’s assistant at the hospital. The second seat was auctioned for $13 million, and was gifted by a friend to Chris Sembroski, a Lockheed Martin employee and Air Force veteran. The last seat went to Dr. Sian Proctor, who earned her place by being selected as the top entrant in an independently judged online business competition.
The four crew members will include: conducting scientific research during the mission. For example, the four space tourists have to conduct research into the impact of space flights on the human body. SpaceX, the Translational Research Institute for Space Health and researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine collected biological samples from the four crew members prior to spaceflight and will collect biomedical data on the passengers during the mission. The resulting data will be available in a open data repository of the TRISH, in which the data will be ‘easily accessible for research purposes’.
It is not yet known when exactly the Crew Dragon capsule will return after its three-day mission. That depends on the weather conditions around Florida. Isaacman has previously said the capsule could remain in orbit for a week if needed.
Tweakers published a Plus article about the Inspiration4 mission and other space tourism projects.