A private SpaceX flight went into orbit overnight on Wednesday, with two contest winners, a healthcare worker, and a multi-million dollar sponsor present. This is the most ambitious leap in space tourism so far.
This was the first time that an astronaut circled the earth in a spacecraft manned by amateurs without supporting professional astronauts.
Jared Isaacman, the flight’s billionaire leader, urged before takeoff: “Hit it, SpaceX!”
The two men and two women inside the Dragon Capsule wish to spend three days inside it, circling the planet, in a slightly high orbit (100 miles higher than the International Space Station) before landing on the Florida coast on the weekend.
This is the first participation of the creator of SpaceX, Elon Musk, in the competition to obtain dollars through space tourism.
This summer, Jared Isaacman is the third billionaire to embark on a space adventure following the brief space flights of Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson and Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos in July. Today Isaacman is 18 years old and made his fortune with a payment processing company he created in his teens.
On the Inspiration4 trip is Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a childhood bone cancer survivor who works as a medical assistant where she was treated: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Isaacman has pledged $ 137 million out of her pocket to the hospital and seeks another $ 100 million in donations.
Arceneaux became the youngest American in space and the first person with a prosthesis, a titanium rod in her left leg.
Also on the trip are sweepstakes winners Chris Sembroski, a data engineer in Everett, Washington, and Sian Proctor, a community college educator in Tempe, Arizona.
NASA was once opposed to space tourism, but now it supports it one hundred percent. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson tweeted: “Low Earth Orbit is now more accessible for more people to experience the wonders of space.”
The recycled Falcon rocket was lifted from the Kennedy Space Center platform used by the company’s three previous astronaut flights for NASA. However, the Dragon capsule was aimed at 575 kilometers, just beyond the Hubble Space Telescope.
SpaceX employees across the country cheered enthusiastically at every flight milestone, even as the spent first stage thruster landed upright on an ocean platform.
Thomas Pesquet, the French astronaut, tweeted from the space station: “It doesn’t matter if you are a professional or not when you are tied to a rocket and launched into space, we have something in common. All the best from, well, space. “