SpaceX achieved Wednesday a significant milestone in the history of spaceflight, sending a crew of citizen astronauts into orbit.
Aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragan capsule, the Inspiration4 astronauts were propelled by a Falcon 9 rocket into the sky at 8:03 p.m. above Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The flight marked the highest altitude a private citizen has traveled. In fact, the mission increased the number of private citizens reaching Earth’s orbit from 8 to 12.
The Falcon 9 used for the mission was flown twice before. The rocket performed flawlessly, sending Crew Dragon into orbit, then returning to Earth for a perfect landing on SpaceX’s drone ship Just Read The Instructions.
The mission was spearheaded by billionaire software entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, who purchased the seats on Crew Dragon to raise awareness and funding for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The fee for the flight was not disclosed.
The citizen astronauts selected for Inspiration4 are Haley Arceneaux, who was treated at St. Jude and now works at the hospital; Isaacman; geologist Sian Proctor; and Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran who served in Iraq.
The astronauts on board will be treated to spectacular views, due to the installation of the largest window ever built into a spacecraft. The Crew is expected to conduct experiments and livestream discussions while in space.
A return to earth is expected on Saturday.