After three days in space, SpaceX’s first all-civilian crew returned to Earth tonight, splashing down off the Florida coast. “It’s been an amazing ride for everyone,” Inspiration 4 mission director Kip O’Keefe said at the Splashdown news conference. “We couldn’t have asked for a more successful mission.”
SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience landed gently in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida at 7:06 p.m. tonight (Sept. 18). EDT (2306 GMT) marks the end of the Inspiration4 mission, a private spaceflight that launched four civilians into orbit earlier this week.
The flight was part of a massive fundraising effort for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Jared Isaacman, billionaire and four of Shift4 Payments, bought the flight from SpaceX to raise $200 million for childhood cancer research.
“Inspiration4, on behalf of SpaceX, welcome to planet Earth,” Chris Young, Space Operations Director of SpaceX Mission Control, told the crew after their successful splashdown.
“Your mission has shown the world that space is meant for all of us and that ordinary people can make an extraordinary impact on the world around them. Thank you – and congratulations – for sharing your leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity. ”
“Thank you very much, SpaceX. It was the heck of a ride for us,” Isaacman replied. “We’re just getting started.”
Isaacman, a physician’s assistant and childhood cancer survivor Hayley Arsinaux; data engineer Chris Sambrowski; and Sean Proctor, a geochemist and community college professor.
Four civilians make up the Inspiration4 crew and their flight is the first time that a spacecraft has carried humans into space without a professional astronaut.
Benji Reid, senior director of human spaceflight programs at SpaceX, said, “It’s a terrific mission, a terrifying experience, and we’re so grateful for the entire crew — Jared and Chris, Cyan and Hayley — for participating and making it really a great experience.” To make a reality.”, said at the press conference.
“Overall the mission was great – beautiful weather from start to finish – and it was really a great experience for everyone on the ground, and Dragon performed very well,” he said.
While in orbit, the crew conducted a number of medical experiments, collecting samples and data that will help researchers better understand how microgravity affects the human body.
It is expected to provide more information about space radiation and its effects on humans.
“It’s really interesting to see how the fluid changes with this microgravity atmosphere,” Arsinox told the audience during the in-flight broadcast on Friday (September 17). “And it’s something that scientists are looking into, so we’re happy to contribute.”
“We are also taking several swabs from different parts of our body to evaluate the microbiome and how it changes over these three days in space,” she said. “I’m also giving a bunch of samples, blood samples, to research teams as well as to do cognitive tests.”
He’s also been treated to epic views of the planet below. His spacecraft, Crew Dragon Resilience, received a unique modification after its final space flight. SpaceX engineers removed the craft’s docking adapter and installed a giant domed window called a cupola in its place.
“We’re spending so much time in this cupola, and can see the entire circumference of Earth, which is [an] incredible perspective,” Arsinaux said during the broadcast. “And I must say, the ideas are out of this world.”
Proctor and Arsinox demonstrated that several crew members could fit into the cupola at one time, adding that the crew spent as much time as possible gazing at Earth.
Proctor showed one of the drawings he was working on in space, an illustration of his Dragon spacecraft being launched into space and drawn with metal markers.
Before launch, she was particularly fascinated by how her paints and markers work in microgravity, as liquids behave very differently in space than they do on Earth.
Sembroski expanded on that, saying, “As the mission aims to open the last frontier to more people, especially people who are not professional astronauts, that crew is bringing more humanities into space.”
And that means not only art projects, but music as well. Sembroski brought with him a custom guitar that was built for the mission. He said he enjoyed practicing playing the instrument in microgravity and even played some melody on the broadcast.
“One of the most fun parts of being in space is microgravity,” Arsinaux said, adding that the lack of gravity “has enabled us to do all kinds of cool flips and spins.”
Her peers said she flips a lot while in microgravity. He also took the time to really show the zero-g indicator he had chosen for the mission. Usually, some sort of stuffed animal chosen by the crew is used to show when the crew has reached space.
For this particular mission, the crew selected a plush dog that represents the therapy dogs employed by St. Jude.
“So this was the first thing we ever had to throw it into space to show that we were actually in a zero-gravity environment,” Arsinaux said as he let it float around the cabin. “This little boy who is so cute represents the St. Jude therapy dog.”
She went on to say how St. Jude has two different golden retriever dogs that are able to sit with kids when they’re scared and even go through an MRI machine or cat scan machine before the kids get them. Do it to show that it’s not so scary.
“So we wanted to bring one of these really sweet dogs into space,” Arkinex said. “But what’s really cool is that these dogs are on sale, and all the money from the sale of our zero-G indicators is going to go to St. Jude.”
The crew was able to call patients, interact with children, and answer their questions at St. Jude’s from space.
Now that the crew is back on Earth, they will be checked out by medical staff and then sent via helicopter to NASA’s Space Shuttle landing facilities. Their Dragon capsule will travel via Port Canaveral to SpaceX’s facilities where it will be unloaded, inspected, and potentially ready to fly again. Although at this time we do not know what its next mission will be.
SpaceX is planning another civilian flight early next year. That mission is a partnership with Axiom Space that will take a crew of four private citizens (including a former NASA astronaut) on a journey to the International Space Station.
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Information Source: space.com/spacex-inspiration4-returns-to-earth