SpaceX launches Falcon 9 for its first all-civilian spaceflight

SpaceX makes history by becoming the first company to send an all-civilian crew into Earth’s orbit.
2 min read
Rocket Launch

For the first time in the company’s history, SpaceX Inc. has launched an all-civilian crew into space to conduct scientific research, in order to investigate the state human health on Earth and the impact future long-duration spaceflight may have on the population.

The four civilians, dubbed as the ‘Inspiration4’ crew, make up the first all-civilian mission to the Earth’s orbit. They will orbit Earth for three days at an altitude of approximately 575km above sea level, making them higher than any other human spaceflight since the Hubble telescope missions. This makes the Dragon capsule (which separates from the first and second stages during ascent) about 100 times higher than the International Space Station.

The Commander of the mission, Jared Isaacman (CEO of Shift4 Payments), paid SpaceX CEO Elon Musk an unknown amount for him and his three fellow spacefarers to board the capsule and conduct the research. It is known Isaacman is using this historic space venture to promote and raise awareness for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a charity which he has already pledged $100m to.

“While a historic journey awaits us in space, I hope this mission reinforces how far inspiration can take us and the extraordinary achievements it leads to here on Earth”, Isaacman posted on Inspiration4’s Twitter.

When they are travelling through Earth’s gravitational fields (i.e. in orbit), they will go around the world once every 90 minutes in excess of 17,000mph, or 22 times the speed of sound.

This spacefaring breakthrough shows that the commercialisation of space travel and space tourism may be not so far ahead, with Musk previously tweeting that he anticipates normal civilians will land on the moon’s surface by 2024.

Both Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) and Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic) made history by going to the edge of space, but that time it was with trained pilots. Musk and the Inspiration4 crew have gone one step further by fitting the spacecraft with a civilian only crew, and has gone even higher than Bezos and Branson did by reaching the Earth’s orbit.

The launch earlier shows that space travel and tourism is now so close to being accessible by not only the rich and famous, but also to the general public.

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