Inspiration4: SpaceX’s all-civilian mission launches to orbit

Inspiration4, run by tech billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX, has launched its first all-civilian mission to orbit on Thursday.

SpaceX’s charity-driven mission named Inspiration4 launched at 8:02 p.m. EDT Wednesday (5.30 am India time Thursday) from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft.

It is commanded by tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman and joined by Medical Officer Haley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and pediatric cancer survivor; Mission Specialist Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer; and Mission Pilot Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, entrepreneur, and trained pilot.

“All systems and weather are looking good for today’s Falcon 9 launch of Dragon’s first all-civilian spaceflight,” SpaceX shared in a tweet before launch.

SpaceX is targeting a five-hour launch window. They will orbit the planet aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule every 90 minutes along a customised flight path.

The three-day mission will target approximately a 575 km orbit, flying farther from Earth than any human spaceflight since the Hubble Space Telescope repair missions.

Upon conclusion of the three-day journey, Dragon and the Inspiration4 crew will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere for a soft water landing off the coast of Florida.

“#Inspiration4 embodies our vision for a future in which private companies can transport cargo and people to low-Earth orbit. More opportunities to fly more opportunities for science,” NASA said in a tweet.

“Thank you for the support. This is what #Inspiration4 is all about,” Inspiration4 replied.

The Dragon has a dome window, inspired by the Cupola on the International Space Station, and will provide the crew with incredible views of Earth, according to the Inspiration4 team.

The Inspiration4 mission marks SpaceX’s latest private astronaut mission.

CEO Musk visited the crew before launch.

“Thank you for visiting our #Inspiration4 crew before their departure to Launch Complex 39A,” Inspiration4 tweeted.

Inspiration4’s goal is to inspire humanity and raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“While you’re watching the @inspiration4x stream, would you consider donating to St. Jude?” the hospital tweeted.

“Every dollar counts, whether it’s $4 for the four crew members or $300 for the three days they’ll be orbiting, your donation makes a big impact on patient families,” it added.

During their multi-day journey in orbit, the Inspiration4 crew will conduct scientific research designed to advance human health on Earth and during future long-duration space flights, the company has said.