SpaceX civilian crew makes history with liftoff from Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy space center: A new era of space travel took off from Kennedy Space Center Wednesday night with the launch of the all-civilian crew aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon.

All four members of the Inspiration4 mission made what only the fourth trip for a Crew Dragon with humans on board after their first three missions transporting astronauts to the International Space Station is. This is the first time a spacecraft in 60 years of space travel has flown without at least one professional astronaut on board.

The Dragon Resilience Crew led the quartet on a Falcon 9 rocket that lifted off from KSC’s Launch Pad 39A at 8:02 pm, illuminating the night sky along the Space Coast.

The rocket booster successfully landed on the drone ship. “Just read the instructions” offshore. It is the 125th successful Falcon 9 and the 91st successful recovery from a first stage.

The crew met with SpaceX founder Elon Musk before leaving the private company hangar at KSC just before 4 pm to a crowd of fans waving, saying goodbye to their families.

The quartet then boarded special Teslas for a trip to the Falcon support building, where they dressed up before reaching the launch pad just before 5 pm.

The flight is targeting three days in space, but it could last longer. Splash is dependent on weather conditions at one of seven locations off the Florida coast, be it in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. The decision on the time and place of landing will be closer to the end of the flight.

38-year-old billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman, who paid the flight bill for an undisclosed sum, readily admits that space travel is a dream come true. He said he didn’t want the other three seats on board to go to “fishing buddies” when he got the opportunity to close the deal with SpaceX.

Instead, he offered a seat to a woman who survived childhood cancer and now works at the hospital where she was treated, another to one of the thousands who donated to a fundraiser for that hospital, and a final seat to a businessman who posted on social media about why she should be chosen to go to space.

“We understand the meaning of this mission. We understand how lucky and lucky we are, “Isaacman said. “We try to be very thoughtful in our approach to this to hopefully set the standard for other missions to follow, and that in our mind is a lot about the responsibilities that we have here on Earth, in addition to what we hope can be achieved. Achieve in space”.

On the debate of whether billionaires should spend money for the betterment of society rather than space tourism, Issacman has guided the mission to achieve both by attempting to raise $ 200 million for the Memphis-based St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Tennessee, and decided to bring as crewmates three people who fit into what he considers the four pillars of inspiration: leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity.

Isaacman fulfills the leadership role and will be the crew commander.

In search of hope, he gave a seat to Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a medical assistant at St. Jude but also a former patient. Arceneaux survived bone cancer at age ten and lost a good portion of his femur, replaced by a titanium rod. She will become the youngest American to enter orbit, surpassing Sally Ride, 32, and the first person with a prosthesis. She has the role of a doctor.

“I never thought I’d be sitting here in front of a rocket about to go into space,” Arceneaux said. “I am so thankful for my cancer journey because it gave me the love for life, just the zest for life and the confidence to say yes to opportunities and because of my cancer, knowing that today I am sitting here to represent all these other children, this is the most incredible honor of my life. “

The seat awarded out of generosity went to Chris Sembroski, 42, who donated to St. Jude after news of the opportunity to win a seat on board was spread in a commercial during this year’s Super Bowl. The Air Force veteran and Lockheed Martin employee did not win, but a friend did, who then gave Sembroski the winning seat. You have been assigned the role of a mission specialist, helping to conduct various planned science experiments during the trip. Still, you are also available to play your ukulele during the mission, which will be auctioned off to raise more money for the hospital.

“It’s going to be fun, like an extended camping trip. You know you’re in a caravan with some of your closest friends for three days,” Samborski said. “Spread out the sleeping bags at night like on any other camping trip, and just buckle up, so you don’t float on each other for the middle of the night.”

The final seat to prosperity went to Sian Proctor, 51, among 200 people who made presentations to Issacman’s company on Twitter promising to bring art and poetry into space. Proctor, however, has some severe space skills, as he was once a NASA finalist astronaut, is a former geology instructor, and current community college professor. You have been awarded the title of the pilot for this mission.

“It’s extraordinary for me to have that title because I’m going to be the first black female spaceship pilot,” Proctor said. “There have been three black astronauts who made it to space, and knowing that I am going to be the fourth means that I have this opportunity to not only fulfill my dream but also … inspire the next generation of women of color and girls of color and do think about reaching for the stars and what that means. “

The flight takes place in Crew Dragon Resilience, the same capsule that flew to the ISS for the Crew-1 mission, and will orbit Earth at nearly 360 miles, an altitude not used since the Hubble Space Telescope Shuttle service missions. Space.

The reason for going so far is not a whim. Isaacman pushed for higher altitude so that worthwhile natural science could be done to help contribute to SpaceX’s long-term goals.

“We have been going to the space station for some time, and there is incredible science and research, and significant contributions are coming, but if we go to the moon again and we are going to go to Mars and beyond, then we have to get out of our zone a little bit. Comfort and take the next step in that direction, “he said.

About half an hour after the launch, former US Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, now the head of NASA, tweeted congratulations from the space agency.

“Congratulations # Inspiration4 !” Reads the tweet. “Low Earth orbit is now more accessible for more people to experience the wonders of space. We look forward to the future, one in which @NASA is one of many clients in the commercial space market. Forward and upward! “