SpaceX launched a mission with a fully civilian crew a few days ago called Inspiration4. It was a milestone trip into orbit as the first mission to feature an entirely civilian crew. Crew members launched into orbit last Wednesday and orbited the Earth at an altitude of 363 miles above the surface.
That altitude put it 100 miles higher than the ISS. The astronauts had a fantastic view of the planet through the cupola on the capsule’s nose that replaced the normal docking hardware for missions to the ISS. The quartet of astronauts reentered Earth’s atmosphere early Saturday evening and splashed down in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida.
Their entire mission spanned three days and was led by a billionaire who footed the bill for the entire trip simply to show that anyone could go into space. The group were the first amateurs SpaceX sent into orbit. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk congratulated the amateur astronauts via Twitter at 5:13 PM on Saturday, September 18.
The billionaire sponsor and crewmember for the mission was Jared Isaacman, who said the mission was “a heck of a ride for us.” These amateur astronauts are unlikely to be the last that
head into orbit as private astronauts. Another interesting factoid about the mission is that Inspiration4 crewmembers were the first to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean since Apollo 9 back in 1969.
The other crewed missions that SpaceX has conducted splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico. SpaceX boats were able to retrieve the capsule from the ocean within a few minutes of splashdown. All the crew members could exit the capsule safely, and all appeared healthy and happy after the mission. Inspiration4 crewmembers circled the Earth roughly every 90 minutes.