Space tourism is becoming more actualized in 2021. With billionaires like Richard Branson showing off his trip on the Virgin Galactic in July, shortly followed by Jeff Bezos’ flight in the Blue Origin’s capsule, 2021 has been historic. And on Saturday, Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully landed, touching down off the coast of Florida at 7:00 PM EDT and making history as the first civilian crew to orbit Earth.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 18, 2021
The SpaceX flight has broken another barrier for space tourists, sending four civilians further than any human has flown from Earth since NASA’s Apollo moon program ended in 1972. The group orbited Earth in the Dragon capsule (dubbed Resilience) at an altitude of 357 miles (575km) for three days, traveling higher than the International Space Station and 22 times the speed of sound, according to Reuters.
“Welcome to the second space age,” Todd “Leif” Ericson, mission director for the Inspiration4 venture, told reporters on a conference call after the crew returned.
Returning to Earth sent the capsule through the atmosphere, reaching 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The astronauts’ flight suits had built-in ventilation systems to keep them cool if the cabin got too warm. The capsule’s speed slowed to around 15 miles per hour when it hit the ocean, according to Reuters.
Jared Isaacman, 38, was titled “commander” for this flight and is now the third billionaire to make it to space. Isaacman is joined by Hayley Arceneaux, 29, “chief medical officer,” a childhood cancer survivor and now a physician assistant at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Isaacman has pledged $100 million and matched the money in donations through Inspiration4. She is now the youngest person ever to orbit Earth.
“Specialist” Chris Sembroski, 42, and retired astronaut candidate and “pilot” Sian Proctor, 51, were the winners of the SpaceX sweepstakes that promised to send two lucky winners to space in February of this year. But the truth is these titles don’t mean much since the Inspiration4 crew onboard played no part in flying the aircraft. The ground crew operated the mission from Earth. Tickets for the entire crew were paid for by Issacman, which were estimated to be $55 million a head, according to Insider.
Once the crew arrived, they were taken for another round of medical check-ups and then flown back to Cape Canaveral via helicopter to reunite with family and friends.