SpaceX all-civilian crew returns to Earth, successfully completing 3-day mission

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The four-person crew of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean Saturday evening, successfully completing the first-ever trip of an all-civilian orbit team into space. 

Video of the moment showed the SpaceX Dragon capsule parachuting back onto Earth, with people cheering as it officially splashed into the Atlantic off the Florida coast shortly after 7 p.m.

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, quickly shared his excitement of the successful mission on Twitter, writing, “Congratulations @Inspiration4x!!!” 

The mission, funded and led by billionaire Jared Isaacman, marks a significant step in efforts by SpaceX and other aerospace corporations to make space flight commercially available. 

Issacman paid $200 million for the flight’s four seats, with the mission aimed at raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 

In addition to Issacman, the crew also included Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant and former patient at St. Jude, as well as Lockheed Martin engineer Chris Sembroski. 

Sian Proctor, professor in Phoenix, Arizona, was also aboard the flight, and became the first Black woman to serve as the pilot of a spacecraft, according to Axios

The crew first launched into space Wednesday evening from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida before they locked into Earth’s orbit, traveling at a speed of roughly 17,500 mph, The Washington Post reported

During the mission, the Inspiration4 team performed science experiments, spoke with some of the young patients at St. Jude and had a phone call with actor Tom Cruise, who then-NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in 2020 was in talks with the agency about potentially shooting a film from the International Space Station (ISS). 

The Inspiration4 official Twitter account shared news of the call with Cruise on Friday, referencing the actor’s popular 1986 aviation film “Top Gun,” by writing, “Maverick, you can be our wingman anytime.” 

SpaceX tweeted photos of the crew from space Friday, writing that the team had “an incredible first day,” during which they “completed more than 15 orbits,” and looked out the ship from the cupola, a large bubble window that was flown for the first time in space on the Inspiration4 mission. 

Tags commercial space flight Elon Musk Florida Human spaceflight Inspiration4 Jim Bridenstine Kennedy Space Center Lockheed Martin NASA Spaceflight SpaceX SpaceX St . Jude The Washington Post Twitter

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