Despite Inspiration4 being the first civilian spaceflight mission, those who conducted the mission are anything but everyday people. Onboard were Jared Isaacman, a billionaire businessman who paid for the trip; Dr. Sian Proctor, a geology professor who is now the first Black woman to pilot a space mission; Christopher Sembroski, a data engineer and Air Force veteran; and Hayley Arceneaux, a bone cancer survivor who received services at St. Jude Children’s Research Center as a child and now works there as a physician assistant. Each crewmember underwent months of training to become accustomed to relatively severe discomfort, including away from the lab—TIME reports the crew conducted a 10,000-foot hike on Mount Rainier and consumed about 60 hours per week of training material in preparation for the trip. Isaacman billed the trip as a fundraiser for St. Jude, which surpassed its $200M goal, thanks in part to a $50M commitment from Elon Musk.
Also making the mission unique is the Crew Dragon’s inclusion of a cupola, or a transparent dome that serves as a window to the galaxy. Inspiration4 marks the first time a cupola was installed on the ship in place of its usual apex docking port, for use during cargo onboarding and offboarding. As they orbited from 585 kilometers from Earth, the crew took full advantage of the cupola’s view, snapping photos of themselves and each other with our planet majestically floating in the background. (How’s that for a profile picture?)
SpaceX shared the splashdown live on YouTube Saturday evening. “Your mission has shown the world that space is for all of us and that everyday people can make extraordinary impacts in the world around them,” SpaceX space operations director Kris Young told the crew at landing. After the crew disembarked the spaceship, received medical checks, and caught a helicopter ride back to Kennedy Space Center, they each tweeted out messages of relief, hope, and gratitude.
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