SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule made landfall in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida, successfully bringing back to Earth a quartet of “amateur astronauts” who spent three days in orbit.
The spacecraft, dubbed Resilience, was parachuted into the sea shortly after 7 p.m. ET. A fleet of SpaceX rescue ships has been deployed nearby to retrieve the craft and its crew.
The Inspiration4 made history as the world’s first “all-civilian” space mission and marked SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s debut in the space tourism industry.
Although none of the crew are professional astronauts, all have undergone months of training to prepare them for the rigors of the mission.
The crew included Commander Jared Isaacman, an American billionaire who funded the launch privately as part of a fundraising campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as well as pilot Sian Proctor, military medic Hayley Arceneaux and mission specialist Chris Sembroski.
The quartet circled the Earth for three days at an altitude of 575 km (360 miles), or about 150 km above the International Space Station.
Inspiration4 follows two high-profile private space flights in July by Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos and Virgin mogul Richard Branson. Bezos flew to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere aboard the New Shepard rocket and capsule, designed by his company, Blue Origin. Branson, who beat Bezos to launch for just over a week, flew an inferior suborbital flight aboard Virgin Galactic’s Unity 22 space plane.
However, neither Bezos nor Branson actually circled the Earth during their flights, so Inspiration4 is the first completely private mission to transport humans into orbital space, an area that was once the preserve of the world’s superpowers.
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