Inspiration4: the first SpaceX tourists have started their space cruise, no professional astronaut on board, this is historic!
Steph Deschamps / September 16, 2021
Four American space tourists began an incredible weightless journey Wednesday in a SpaceX spacecraft, where they are scheduled to spend three days orbiting Earth without any professional astronauts on board, a historic first.
The Falcon 9 rocket took off at the scheduled time, 8:02 p.m. local time from the mythical launch pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with a roar and a fireball illuminating the night.
A few minutes later, the first and second stages of the rocket separated, leaving the Dragon capsule and its passengers alone in the cosmos.
They are to travel further than the International Space Station (ISS), at a target orbit of 575 km. They will circle the globe about 15 times each day.
Callee Inspiration4, the mission is supposed to be a step towards the democratization of space, by proving that the cosmos is not reserved only for hand-picked astronaut crews trained for years.
After receiving a visit from Elon Musk, boss of SpaceX and Tesla, the four passengers climbed into white Tesla cars at around 4pm local time, under the sun and the applause of a small crowd, to reach the building where they then put on their custom-made suits.
Then they reached the launch pad, boarded, and after a series of systems checks, the capsule's hatch was closed.
The mission was chartered by Jared Isaacman, 38, owner 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 will be the commander on board, and has offered three other seats to strangers.
Hayley Arceneaux, a survivor of pediatric cancer, is a 29-year-old medical assistant. She is the youngest American woman to go into space, and the first person with a prosthesis (femur).
Chris Sembroski, 42, is a former U.S. Air Force officer who now works in the aviation industry.
Finally, Sian Proctor, a 51-year-old Earth science professor, was almost selected in 2009 to become an astronaut for NASA. She is only the fourth African-American woman to go into space.