Minggu, 19 September 2021

SpaceX capsule with world's first all-civilian orbital crew splashes down off Florida - ABC News

The quartet of newly minted citizen astronauts comprising the SpaceX Inspiration4 mission has safely splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida.

The three-day flight put four space-tourists — including a nurse, a professor and an engineer — into Earth's orbit.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed Resilience, parachuted into the sea about 7:00pm on Saturday (local time), shortly before sunset, after an automated re-entry descent.

SpaceX livestreamed the re-entry on its YouTube channel.

The return from orbit followed a plunge through Earth's atmosphere generating frictional heat that sent temperatures outside the capsule to 1,927 degrees Celsius.

The astronauts' flight suits, fitted to special ventilation systems, were designed to keep them cool if the cabin heated up.

Applause was heard from the SpaceX flight control centre in suburban Los Angeles as the first parachutes were seen deploying, slowing the capsule's descent to about 24 kilometres per hour before splashdown, and again as the craft hit the water.

SpaceX recovery boats were shown approaching the water-proof Crew Dragon as it bobbed upright in the ocean, while retrieval teams clambered over the capsule, attaching rigging before hoisting it out of the water.

The crew members were removed from the capsule once it was placed safely on the floating recovery vessel.

After undergoing medical checks at sea, the four amateur astronauts will be flown by helicopter back to Cape Canaveral to be reunited with loved ones, SpaceX said.

SpaceX, the private rocketry company founded by Tesla Inc electric automaker CEO Elon Musk, supplied the spacecraft, launched it from Florida and flew it from the company's suburban Los Angeles headquarters.

The Inspiration4 team blasted off on Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral atop one of SpaceX's two-stage reusable Falcon 9 rockets.

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The first all-civilian SpaceX crew blasts off for a three-day mission.

Within three hours the crew capsule had reached a cruising orbital altitude of just over 585 kilometres — higher than the International Space Station or Hubble Space Telescope, and the farthest any human has flown from Earth since NASA's Apollo Moon program ended in 1972.

It also marked the debut flight of Mr Musk's new space tourism business and a leap ahead of competitors offering rides on rocket ships to well-heeled customers willing to pay a small fortune to experience the exhilaration of spaceflight and earn amateur astronaut wings.

'A heck of a ride'

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Crew members from the Inspiration4 emerge from the pod.

The Inspiration4 team was led by its wealthy benefactor, Jared Isaacman, chief executive of the e-commerce firm Shift4 Payments Inc, who assumed the role of mission "commander".

"We're just getting started."

He had paid an undisclosed but reportedly enormous sum — put by Time magazine at roughly $200 million to fellow billionaire Musk for all four seats aboard the Crew Dragon.

Mr Isaacman was joined by three less affluent crewmates he had selected — geoscientist and former NASA astronaut candidate Sian Proctor, 51, physician's assistant and childhood bone cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux, 29, and aerospace data engineer and Air Force veteran Chris Sembroski, 42.

Mr Isaacman conceived of the flight primarily to raise awareness and donations for one of his favourite causes, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a leading paediatric cancer centre in Memphis, Tennessee, where Ms Arceneaux was a patient and now works.

The Inspiration4 crew had no part to play in flying the spacecraft, which was operated by ground-based flight teams and onboard guidance systems, even though Mr Isaacman and Ms Proctor are both licensed pilots.

A white triangular space capsule docks onto two white arms of the International Space Station.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured about 20 meters away from the International Space Station’s Harmony module.(



SpaceX already ranked as the most well-established player in the burgeoning constellation of commercial rocket ventures, having launched numerous cargo payloads and astronauts to the space station for NASA.

Two rival operators, Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc and Blue Origin, inaugurated their own astro-tourism services in recent months, with their respective founding executives, billionaires Richard Branson and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, each going along for the ride.

Those suborbital flights, lasting a matter of minutes, were short hops compared with Inspiration4's three days in orbit.


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2021-09-19 10:30:00Z

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