Sep 18, 2021 - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

The Inspiration4 crew on the back back down to Earth after their flight in space.
A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.

What's happening: Inspiration4 launched on Wednesday and came back in for a splashdown within their SpaceX Dragon capsule in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast on Saturday.

  • "On behalf of SpaceX, welcome back to planet Earth," Kris Young, SpaceX's space operations director, said at splashdown.
  • "Thanks so much, SpaceX," commander of the mission Jared Isaacman said upon landing. "It was a heck of a ride for us."

Catch up quick: The mission was thought up by billionaire entrepreneur Isaacman.

  • Chris Sembroski was chosen as part of a raffle that anyone could enter, while Hayley Arceneaux — a physician assistant at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital who was treated by the hospital as a child — was chosen by her employer to fly.
  • Sian Proctor was selected as part of a reality TV-style competition for entrepreneurs and became the first Black woman to serve as the pilot of a spacecraft.
  • During their time in space, the four crew members spoke to their families, some of the kids at St. Jude, Bono and Tom Cruise as well as performed science experiments and gazed out of the cupola, a huge bubble window flown for the first time on this mission.

The bottom line: Inspiration4's successful launch and landing mark a huge win for SpaceX as the company works to bring about a future where millions of people are living off-Earth.

ğŸŽ§ Go deeper: Listen to the new season of Axios' How It Happened: The Next Astronauts going inside Inspiration4 here.

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