Inspiration4: this is the first orbital space trip where all astronauts are tourists

Although it was a few months ago when a new era of space travel was inaugurated for tourists, the truth is that they were very short-lived experiences with only a few brief moments of weightlessness. A few seconds of suborbital flight that they are nothing more than a snack when compared to Elon Musk’s plans. The founder of SpaceX plans to launch the Inspiration4 mission starting at 2 a.m. on Thursday morning peninsular Spain time.

Inspiration4 is the first new generation orbital launch with an all-civilian crew. A historical event and that opens the door to the next launches that do not require more than a more or less long instruction to be able to control the ship.

Thus, the Crew Dragon capsule used for the Inspiration4 mission will house those 4 civilians for 3 days. Providing them with everything they need to live with the right comforts and with some structural modification with respect to the models that cover the journey to the International Space Station.

An approximation to the trips to the Moon and Mars that are no longer so distant in time and that they will need civilian personnel if they want to colonize. Something like a small-scale experiment that can provide a lot of data on how psychologically a human copes with a launch and subsequent coexistence up there.

Three days and four astronauts

The launch is planned to take place from the legendary Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral (Florida), NASA’s star facilities and one of the most important in this new space age. The countdown will reach zero at about 2:00 in the morning of September 16 Spanish time peninsular (8:02 pm ET on Wednesday 15), at which point the 9 Merlin engines installed in the first stage of the Falcon 9 will ignite and send the ship off the ground with the Crew Dragon at the top.

Inspiration4 crew inside the capsule

Inspiration4

The orbit chosen for this occasion falls within the LEO (Low Earth Orbit or Low Earth Orbit) staying at a heyday of 580 kilometers where they will remain rotating around the planet for 3 days. The accommodation is provided by the Crew Dragon capsule that is giving SpaceX such a good result. Whose launch took place in May 2020, uniting, in a manned mission, the Earth with the International Space Station.

But as mentioned before, engineers under Elon Musk have designed a glass dome. located in the highest part of the capsule. During takeoff, and in order to protect it, it will be covered with a kind of shield that will open once the capsule is orbiting.

Dome in the Dragon Crew

Dome in the Dragon Crew

SpaceX

The Dragon Crew has capacity to accommodate 7 occupants -Although NASA has already said that it will only use it to transport 3 or 4- and it has a height of 8.1 meters by 4 in diameter. Regarding the capacity, the internal volume amounts to 9.3 cubic meters and the total of the entire capsule to 37 cubic meters. In which it can transport 6,000 kilograms of launch and 3,000 kilograms in the landing.

Not much else is known about life on board, just that they will carry out some experiments in order to “expand our knowledge of the universe,” according to the website. “Load capacity of 365 pounds [165 kilogramos] will be allocated for both crew essentials and the scientific team dedicated to microgravity research and experimentation“Without delving further into the scientific facet.

Takeoff of a Falcon 9 rocket

Takeoff of a Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX

As for the return to the mainland, SpaceX plans to land the capsule on September 18 -3 days after launch- somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. The person in charge of collecting the capsule with the astronauts inside will be the ship GO Navigator.

For a good cause

Inspiration4 is not one of those missions where NASA hires SpaceX to transport astronauts or cargo. This time much of the bill has been borne by Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Sifht4 Payments. Aged 38 at the time of launch, Isaacman founded the company in the basement of his parents’ home in 1999. In one of those stories that seems straight out of any series of American entrepreneurs.

Inspiration4 mission astronauts

Inspiration4 mission astronauts

Netflix

Netflix

Sifht4 Payments currently has more than 1,200 employees and is considered one of the largest companies in the payments technology industry. Isaacman’s goal, through Inspiration4, is to raise over $ 200 million for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, one of the most important pediatric cancer research centers in the country, of which 100 have already been donated by Isaacman himself.

Regarding the mission alignment, the own Isaacman will be the commander of Inspiration 4, as collected from the statements published on the website. “By fulfilling a personal and lifelong dream, I recognize the tremendous responsibility of commanding this mission,” he says.

The rest of the crew is composed of Hayley Arcenaux, who precisely he was cured of bone cancer in that hospital when she was a child and now she works there; Chhis Sembroski, an engineer who served in the United States Air Force and now works for Lockheed Martin and, finally, Sian Proctor, geoscientist, explorer and popularizer.

All of them have had to undergo a deep succeeded medical evaluation of a complex training process. The astronauts began the instruction back in March with the classic centrifuge test to experience the G-forces. Later, in July, they had to go through the SpaceX simulator area to get to know in depth the handling of the Crew Dragon.

Inspiration4 mission astronauts

Inspiration4 mission astronauts

Netflix

Isaacman as commander, must know all the details of the space capsule in case you have to take control about her. Something that will only happen in an emergency as it can be handled from the mainland. Similarly, the entire Inspiration4 crew were monitoring the consoles on the Transponder-2 mission and closely watched the landing and recovery of Crew-1.

Series and Netflix

The expectation that this mission has raised around the world has led to Netflix to make a documentary series under the name Countdown: Inspiration4 Space Mission. The first two chapters, released on September 6, deal with the history of the 4 crew members and how they came to enlist in a mission of these characteristics; While the last two released this Monday detail how the pre-launch training sessions were carried out.

The series finale is scheduled for release on next September 30, where the mission will be discussed in more detail with the mission completed 12 days ago.

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