The all-civilian crew of the historic SpaceX Inspiration4 mission safely splashed down in the Atlantic yesterday, after spending three days in Earth's orbit.
The Crew Dragon capsule landed off the coast of Florida at around 7PM local time yesterday, bringing an end to one of the first major space tourism missions.
SpaceX engineers congratulated the crew, who ventured further than the International Space Station and the Hubble Telescope without any pilots onboard.
"Welcome home to planet Earth," said SpaceX quality engineer Andy Tran to the crew as they descended. "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 so much, SpaceX. It was a heck of a ride for us," replied Jared Isaacman, the billionaire who funded the trip. "We're just getting started!"
The Inspiration4 crew was made up of Isaacman and three others, including an artist and a cancer survivor. They performed some science experiments in orbit, as well as making art and playing the ukelele.
"Because we're trying to open the frontier for more people and open up space to more humans, we're going to be bringing more of our humanities with us… along with art and music," passenger Chris Sembrowski said on a livestream from the capsule.
The trip raised around £200 million for cancer research and treatment at a children's hospital in Tennessee, where passenger Hayley Arceneaux was once a patient.
The crew were recovered by SpaceX boats and quickly brought ashore. The new astronauts will undergo some medical tests and be treated to a private party before being allowed to return home.
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The Inspiration4 mission is historic for being the first all-civilian spaceflight to orbit. It is remarkable for its length—three days—and for its distance from Earth.
Previous private spaceflights this summer from the likes of Jeff Bezos' Blue Origins and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic only made it to the edge of the stratosphere for a number of minutes before returning to Earth.
On Friday, Jeff Bezos congratulated SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on the flight, marking a cooling in tensions between the two billionaires over their private space race. Bezos' space company Blue Origins is currently suing NASA for granting a $2.39 billion moon lander contract to SpaceX.
With many more missions to come, the Inspiration4 flight may have been one small step for man, but it was undoubtedly a giant leap for the private space industry.
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