History Made As First Flight To Space Without Any Professional Astronauts On Board Launches
The first flight to space without any professional astronauts has launched in a historical first.
Founded by Elon Musk, SpaceX’s Inspiration4 space mission launched just after 8.00pm (EDT) on Wednesday, September 15.
The mission Saw a four person all-civilian team take off and they will now spend three days in space without any professional astronauts onboard.
The mission will take place onboard a SpaceX Falcon Nine Rocket and Dragon spacecraft that took off from NASA‘s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will also now fly the civilians higher in orbit than any human has before since the launch of the Space Shuttle.
During their three days in space, passengers on the flight will not only get to view Earth from high above, but they will also get the chance to conduct scientific research.
The research is ‘designed to advance human health on Earth and during future long-duration spaceflights’, according to the SpaceX website.
After three days in space, the shuttle flight will return to Earth by landing in the ocean at one of the ‘several possible landing sites of the Florida coast’, SpaceX‘s website reported.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule that will carry to crew is designed to take them to an orbital altitude target of 360 miles (575 km) above the Earth, a distance that’s even higher than that of the International Space Station.
The rocket will subsequently also overtake the flights made this summer by Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, both of which lasted just a few minutes. The pair journeyed to space with Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.
SpaceX is a private rocket founded by Elon Musk, based in California. Musk was paid by Shift4 Payments Inc founder and chief Jared Isaacman to take the four crew members into orbit.
The greater distance and time spent in space does come at a greater risk to the astronauts onboard. The high-orbital flight that Inspiration4 is about to conduct includes a higher risk of radiation exposure.
The day before the flight, the crew told Reuters how much they were looking forward to the liftoff, saying that they were feeling the nerves, but only ‘the good kind’.
Geoscientist, entrepreneur and trained pilot Sian Proctor said how she was ‘worried that this moment would never come’ in her life. Proctor, now 51 years old, was a finalist in the 2009 NASA’s astronaut candidate programme.
Proctor was even contacted by former first lady Michelle Obama, who wished her and her flightmates well via a telephone call. She commented how the conversation would ‘stay with [her] the rest of [her] life’.
Proctor will be joined by three other civilian astronauts: Isaacman, 38; Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer Chris Sembroski, 42; and physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux, 29.
The Inspiration4 mission was partly designed to heavily promote the work of Arceneaux. She survived bone cancer as a child and has been working with patients who suffer from young lymphoma and leukemia at St. Jude Children’s Research Center in Memphis, Tennessee. Arceneaux told Reuters how she was ‘just so excited’ for the mission.
On the SpaceX website, the mission objective states:
The Inspiration4 mission is part of Jared’s ambitious fundraising goal to give hope to all kids with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to learn how you can help the Inspiration4 crew reach their $200M fundraising goal.
A retired NASA astronaut joined the event the day before the launch to welcome the civilian astronauts to the ‘family’.
The launch of the Inspiration4 mission had already been delayed for 24 hours, reported The Independent. While it is now set to take place within a five-hour window, it could happen anytime after, rather than just within, the set bracket of time.
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