Liftoff of a SpaceX rocket with four tourists aboard the galaxy

The Falcon 9 rocket departed as scheduled, 8:02 pm local time, from the legendary Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with a roar and a fireball glowing at night.

A few minutes later, the first and then the second phase of the rocket separated, leaving the Dragon capsule and its passengers alone in the cosmos.

The Crew Dragon capsule has been modified to include a unique domed window that allows Inspiration4 members to have a 360 degree view of the outside of the ship.

Photo: SpaceX

Few came first and many came next. The door opened, amazingsaid billionaire Jared Isaacman, the mission commander, from inside the capsule after arriving in space.

They must travel farther than the International Space Station (ISS), at a target orbit of 575 km. They revolve around the world approximately 15 times per day.

Democratize the space

Baptized Inspiration4, the mission should include a step towards a democratization of the galaxy, by proving that the cosmos is not reserved just for crews of astronauts selected and trained over many years.

After a visit by Elon Musk, boss of SpaceX and Tesla, the four passengers boarded around 4 pm local time in the white Teslas, under the sun and the applause of a small crowd, to reach the building where they wore their custom-made. jumpsuit.

Then they get to the launch pad, ride, and after a series of system tests, the capsule hatch is closed.

Four tourists in space

The mission was taken by Jared Isaacman, 38, the boss of a financial services company and a seasoned pilot. The price he paid to SpaceX was not disclosed, but is in the tens of millions of dollars. He would be the captain of the ship, and offered three more seats to strangers.

Hayley Arceneaux, a childhood cancer survivor, is a 29-year-old medical assistant. He was the youngest American to go into space, and the first person to have a prosthetic femur.

Chris Sembroski, 42, is a former U.S. Air Force veteran who now works in the aviation industry.

Finally, Sian Proctor, a 51-year-old professor of Earth science, was almost selected in 2009 to be an astronaut for NASA.

She is only the fourth African-American woman to go into space.

Four astronauts are sitting inside a space capsule.

Four American space tourists aboard SpaceX’s Dragon capsule.

Photo: AP

At the end of their journey, they will begin a daunting descent to reach the Florida coast.

For SpaceX, this is at least a first step toward multiplanetary humanity – Elon Musk’s true vision.

Just getting startedsaid Jared Isaacman Tuesday at a press conference.

Under surveillance

On board, their biological data (heart rate, sleep, etc.) as well as their cognitive ability will be evaluated. They will also undergo tests before and after the trip, to measure the effect on their body.

They will enjoy the breathtaking view through the glass dome installed for the first time on the Dragon.

Their training lasted only about six months. The flight is expected to remain fully automated, but crews are trained by SpaceX to control in an emergency.

To prepare, they also trekked in the snow up to over 3,000 meters above sea level, and endured the g-force of the centrifuge (long, fast rotating arm) and jet flight.

The mission also serves as leverage for a large fundraising campaign for St-Jude pediatric hospital (in Memphis, Tennessee), where Hayley Arceneaux worked after being treated there as a child. On the ship there are various items (ukulele, 30 kg of hops intended to make beer on Earth taste of the galaxy …) that will then be auctioned.

last boundary

This mission ends with a summer marked by the flight of billionaires to the final frontier: first Richard Branson on July 11, aboard the ship Virgin Galactic, then a few days later Jeff Bezos, with his company Blue Origin. But these suborbital flights offer only a few minutes of imbalance.

Tourists are already in orbit: wealthy personalities, for example, went to the ISS between 2001 and 2009, aboard Russian rockets.

But the advent of private business programs today marks a turning point.

The departure of Inspiration4 reminds us of what can be achieved when we partner with private industryNASA boss Bill Nelson tweeted on Wednesday.

SpaceX has already sent 10 astronauts to the ISS on behalf of NASA on three previous manned missions, and is planning more tourism flights into space afterwards. The next, from January 2022, with three traders on board.

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