Elon Musk has long envisioned space flight as being as cost-effective as plane travel, albeit still more costly. SpaceX’s objective is to make this a reality for commercial space tourism as well as government-funded missions and research. Although the firm has perfected the majority of its launches and landings, it still has a few objectives to complete. At least two of them have been finished now that the Inspiration4 mission is underway, sending four humans around the Earth at a record-breaking altitude for three days.
At 8:02 p.m. EDT on September 15, the Crew Dragon carrying these four non-professional astronauts safely launched from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be circling the Earth for the next three days before splashing down somewhere near the Florida coast, hopefully safely. SpaceX, on the other hand, has already completed some historical firsts, placing it back on top of the space race.
This mission is being advertised as the first to be conducted entirely by civilians without the presence of any trained astronauts. Of fact, the term “civilian” can refer to a variety of things, and at least two of the four passengers are licensed pilots. Of course, they are experts in their industries, including mission commander Jared Isaacman, who is also the CEO of a payment processing firm.
The Dragon capsule’s altitude of 575 kilometres (360 miles) above the Earth’s surface is the highest a crewed mission has ever gone in nearly a decade. That’s higher than the Hubble Telescope’s 540 kilometres, where the last crewed mission set a new record in 2019. NASA’s decommissioned Space Shuttle was naturally engaged in that mission, which the space agency is working to replace with private contracts from businesses like SpaceX.
While the Inspiration4 mission is primarily focused on study, namely the consequences of spending days in orbit on the human body, it also lays the way for less noble goals. SpaceX intends to offer commercial space flight to similarly unskilled individuals in the near future. The company’s next “private” expedition to the International Space Station is slated for October and will include a Russian film director and actress.