Story at a glance
- A reusable Falcon 9 rocket launched four civilians into orbit Wednesday.
- The Crew Dragon capsule settled into orbit about 360 miles above the Earth’s surface.
- The mission is the first time that a launch was guided without an astronaut on board.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX made history after successfully launching an all-civilian crew into Earth’s orbit for the first time ever.
A reusable Falcon 9 rocket launched Chris Sembroski, an aerospace data engineer; Jared Isaacman, a billionaire tech entrepreneur; Sian Proctor, a geoscientist; and Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant, from Cape Canaveral Wednesday evening as part of the Inspiration4 mission.
The Crew Dragon capsule settled into orbit about 360 miles above the Earth’s surface, higher than the pathway taken by the International Space Station, and will orbit the planet for three days. The crew will then splash down at one of several possible landing sites off the Florida coast.
The mission is the first time that a launch was guided without an astronaut on board.
SpaceX Thursday morning shared video taken from the capsule’s cupola that shows a sweeping view of Earth.
View from Dragon’s cupola pic.twitter.com/Z2qwKZR2lK— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 16, 2021
The Inspiration4 crew will conduct research designed to “advance human health on Earth and during future long-duration spaceflights,” SpaceX said.
Isaacman, who is leading the mission, paid $200 million for the flight's four spots, using the launch as an opportunity to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
The mission comes after billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson both launched to the edge of space in spacecraft manufactured by their aerospace companies as part of efforts to ramp up the space tourism industry.
READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA