All-Civilian Inspiration4 Crew of 1st Time Space Travelers Splashdown Safely off Florida Coast in Atlantic Ocean

All-Civilian Inspiration4 Crew of 1st Time Space Travelers Splashdown Safely off Florida Coast in Atlantic Ocean
Splashdown of SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spaceship as it descends to the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of Florida on Saturday, Sept. 18, at 7:06 p.m. ET 2021 to conclude the Inspiration4 mission to low Earth orbit. Credit: Inspiration4/SpaceX

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – After a history making journey to space the all-civilian Inspiration4 crew of first time space travelers aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on the first privately financed mission to Earth orbit splashed down safely in the Atlantic Ocean offshore of the Florida Space Coast Saturday, Sept. 18, just before sunset and not too far from their starting launch point on their incredible voyage to the High Frontier Wednesday evening, Sept 15, just after sunset.

The Inspiration4 all-civilian crew of four non-professional astronauts splashed down at approximately 7:06 p.m. EDT (2306 GMT) some 30 miles (50 kilometers) offshore of the east coast of Florida and the Kennedy Space Center – thus concluding the historic flight some 71 hours after liftoff.

The goal of Inspiration was raising awareness and fundraising of hundreds of millions of dollars as a charity benefit fortifying childhood cancer science research and patient treatment for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“Inspiration4, on behalf of SpaceX, welcome home to planet Earth,” radioed Kris Young, SpaceX’s space operations director, moments after splashdown. “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.

“Thank you for sharing your leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity,” Young said, referring to the mission’s four pillars associated with each of the four Inspiration4 crew members.

“Thanks so much, SpaceX. It was a heck of a ride for us,” replied Jared Isaacman, the billionaire mission commander who self-financed the flight. “We’re just getting started.”

The history making mission was the brainchild of and commanded by billionaire entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, the 38-year-old founder and Chief Executive Officer of Shift4 Payments payment processing system who is also an accomplished jet fighter pilot and adventurer, as well as a high school dropout.

The entire Inspiration4 flight from start to finish was near flawless for the first private commercial mission to orbit with no government involvement or financing, which utilized a SpaceX developed Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon astronaut spaceship – with funding and technical help from NASA – in a magnificent triumph for the space company led by visionary billionaire SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

 

On September 15 the crew of Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight mission launched to orbit at 8:02:56 PM EDT (0002:56 GMT) shortly after sunset  Wednesday evening on a now thrice flown SpaceX Falcon 9 from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Inspiration4 is the world’s first all civilian mission to low Earth orbit with a crew of four private people

We heard twin sonic booms as the SpaceX Dragon soared overhead of us on the Florida Space Coast in Titusville – bit as expected could not see any sign of the spaceship due to thick, dark clouds and thunder

Inspiration4 launch of 1st all civilian crew aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience hurtle to orbit after 8:02 p.m. ET liftoff on Sept. 15, 2021 from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Mission goal is raising charity funds to benefit childhood cancer research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The Inspiration4 mission is ushering in a new era of space exploration opening the door to space to “everyday people” to fly in space – beyond just highly trained government astronauts, qualified scientists and in a very few cases wealthy individuals who could afford the steep price tag of a seat aboard Russian Soyuz capsules.

Inspiration4 launch of 1st all civilian crew aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience hurtle to orbit after 8:02 p.m. ET liftoff on Sept. 15, 2021 from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Mission goal is raising charity funds to benefit childhood cancer research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

“Few have come before, and many are about to follow,” Inspiration4 Commander Jared Issacman said from inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft soon after achieving orbit Wednesday. “The door is now open, and it’s pretty incredible.”

 

Isaacman personally arranged the flight with SpaceX and CEO Elon Musk and financed the Inspiration4 mission with his own funds and is paying for the seats of the other three private passengers aboard – none of whom knew one another until they were selected in February and March earlier this year.

In addition to Isaacman the crew is comprised of three private U.S. citizens who were either selected by Isaacman or through competitions;  29-year old Hayley Arceneaux, a bone cancer survivor who was treated as a 10 year old at St. Jude and is now a physician’s assistant at the hospital, 51-year old Sian Proctor, a pilot, artist geoscientist, science communicator and finalist in the 2009 astronaut selection process, and 42-year old Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran and aerospace data analyst who works at Lockheed Martin.

Arceneaux is now the youngest American to achieve orbit and the first person in space with a prosthesis – a metal rod in her leg from the bone cancer treatment. She will serve as medical officer of the three-day mission.

Teams on SpaceX’s Go Searcher recovery ship quickly arrived on scene after the splashdown, secured the spacecraft and hoisted it onto the main deck of the ship, within an hour.

 

 

The Inspiration4 crew members egressed the spacecraft one by one and received medical checks before a helicopter ride back to Kennedy Space Center.

The entire crew was in great spirits and health and flashing thumbs up after they were assisted out of the capsule and on deck

Overall this is the fourth crewed flight for Crew Dragon following three missions for NASA to the ISS starting in May 2021.

Isaacman personally donated $100 million to St. Jude and the mission hoped to raise another $100 million in donations for a total of $200 million.

By the conclusion of the flight upon splashdown the Inspiration4 term announced they had raised over $160 million

 

SpaceX CEO then announced he donated another $50 million – and the $200 million goal was handily exceeded.

Please donate to St Judes Children Hospital to support research and treatments for childhood cancer patients.

 

 

The four-person crew spent three days in orbit after liftoff but was not planned to dock the International Space Station (ISS).

 

Several science experiments were planned involving medical examinations of the crew taking measurements and swabs

They flew aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience – which has flown once before on the Crew-1 mission for NASA to the ISS.

Falcon 9 delivered Crew Dragon and the Inspiration4 4 person crew to a circular orbit of 585km (363 mi) – a new Dragon altitude record!

That altitude is roughly 100 miles (160 km)  above the ISS orbit.

Credit: SpaceX

 

Since Dragon is not docking to the ISS SpaceX removed the docking system and replaced it with a three-layer plexiglass domed cupola to offer an unimpeded 360 degree spectacular panoramic view out the top of the spacecraft of the Earth and space after the nose cone unlatches and opens

The Dragon cupola is flying for the first time and SpaceX tweeted this image – which shows a more curvatured & stunning view of Earth from the SpaceX CrewDragon

 

Furthermore the crew is flying higher than any humans have flown since NASA’s final shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009 on STS-125.

The next astronaut mission for NASA is sleated for liftoff on Oct. 31 of the Crew 3 mission to the ISS

The ‘flight proven’ Falcon 9 1st stage booster B1062 has flown twice before on a pair of GPS satellite delivery missions to orbit for the U.S. Space Force.

The booster again nailed a successful landing on the Just Read the Instructions (JRTI) droneship some eight minutes after liftoff and will be reflown on a future mission.

Check out our photos of the launch and prelaunch periods at the pad and KSC press site of the rather sooty rocket and Crew Dragon taken at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Playalinda Beach taken by the Space UpClose team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright.

Here is a list of historic mission firsts:

  • First all-civilian human spaceflight to orbit
  • First black female spacecraft pilot
  • Youngest American in space
  • First person to fly to space with a prosthetic
  • Farthest flight for a human spaceflight since the Hubble missions
  • First time SpaceX has operated three Dragons in space
  • First free-flight of a Dragon spacecraft on a human spaceflight mission
  • Largest contiguous window ever flown in space
  • First splashdown of a Dragon crew in the Atlantic Ocean
  • First thrice-flown Falcon 9 booster to launch a human spaceflight mission

The adventures of the eclectic crew are being documented in a multipart series currently airing on Netflix about the mission, called “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space.”

The four crew members represent the four mission pillars of leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity – each with a seat on the mission.

Isaacman represents leadership as the mission command and benefactor

 

My commentary and analysis about Inspiration4 has been featured in several stories on WKMG CBS News Orlando and WFTV ABC News Orlando on Sep 13, 14 and 15.

WKMG CBS

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2021/09/14/inspiration4-crew-writing-new-narrative-of-human-spaceflight/

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2021/09/13/launch-time-inspiration4-liftoff-window-opens-wednesday-night/

WFTV ABC

https://www.wftv.com/news/local/all-suited-up-inspiration4-crew-completes-full-dry-dress-rehearsal-ahead-historic-launch/2DP4BMUQWBDIHINNDOR2HG6WWY/

Dr. Ken Kremer of Space UpClose commentary about Inspiration4 mission for WFTV ABC 9 Orlando news

Ken and Jean are onsite at KSC for live reporting of the Inspiration4 mission.

 

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, Artemis and NASA missions, SLS, Orion, SpaceX  Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Please consider supporting Ken’s work by purchasing his photos and/or donating at Patreon:

https://www.patreon.com/kenkremer

UpClose view of SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience atop Falcon 9 with Crew Access Arm astronaut walkway for Inspiration4 mission launch on Sept. 15, 2021 from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. . Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience and Falcon 9 rocket ready for launch on Inspiration4 all-civilian mission to orbit on Sept 15, 2021 from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Jean Wright/spaceupclose.com

 

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Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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