It was the first time a crew of private individuals, rather than professional astronauts, had been sent into orbit. The mission carried the crew members considerably further out into space than either Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson or Blue Origin’s (and Amazon’s) Jeff Bezos ventured on their recent trips above the globe. And the Inspiration4 journey serves to reinforce the idea of sending ordinary people into space for tourism, futuristic international travel, and maybe even cosmic colonization.
Isaacman, a former pilot and billionaire founder of a payment processing company, funded the mission and offered the remaining three seats to members of the public: Hayley Arceneaux (Physician Assistant) Christopher Sembroski (Data Engineer) and Sian Proctor (Community College Professor) who is now the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft.
The crew spent its time orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes (about 100 miles farther out than the International Space Station), admiring the view from a specially installed glass cupola on SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, conducting various science experiments, and occasionally taking breaks to play with a plushie pup (also known as the mission’s “zero gravity indicator”). To measure changes in behavior and cognition, physiological information on the crew was collected, including data on heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, and how well the team members slept.
“That was a heck of a ride for us,” mission commander Jared Isaacman tweeted after splashdown.
Musk said on Saturday evening that he would be giving $50 million to the donation campaign, allowing it to reach the $200 million target established by the team. Isaacman is also putting up $100 million.
The mission was also billed as a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, where Arceneaux works and where she was a cancer patient as a child.
SpaceX said in June that it will begin sending space travelers to the ISS next year (for an estimated $55 million per ticket). In addition, NASA announced in April that it has chosen SpaceX to supply the human landing mechanism for the agency’s Artemis program. Artemis advocates sending the first woman and man to the moon as soon as possible, with the goal of ultimately establishing sustainable exploration there. Artemis’ knowledge will be put to use in preparing to send people to Mars.
Get ready people! Soon we will be having space tours in the future.