Sci & Tech

SpaceX's Private Inspiration4 Crew Returns to Earth

SpaceX's Private Inspiration4 Crew Returns to Earth
SpaceX's Private Inspiration4 Crew Returns to Earth

After three days in space, SpaceX's first all-civilian crew returned to Earth tonight, splashing down off the Florida coast to end a historic mission. 
"It's been an amazing ride for everyone," Inspiration4 Mission Director Kip O'Keefe said in a post-splashdown news conference. "We couldn't ask for a more successful mission."
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience gently landed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sept. 18 at 7:06 p.m. EDT (2306 GMT) marking the end of the Inspiration4 mission, a private spaceflight that launched four civilians into orbit earlier this week, reported. 
The flight was part of a massive fundraising effort for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Jared Isaacman, billionaire and four of Shift4 Payments, purchased the flight from SpaceX to raise $200 million for childhood cancer research. 
"Inspiration4, on behalf of SpaceX, welcome to planet Earth," Kris Young, Space Operations director at SpaceX mission control, told the crew after their successful 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 — and congratulations."
"Thanks so much, SpaceX. It was a heck of a ride for us," Isaacman replied. "We're just getting started."
Isaacman is joined by Hayley Arceneaux, a physician's assistant and childhood cancer survivor; Chris Sembroski, a data engineer; and Sian Proctor, a geoscientist and community college professor. 
The four citizens make up the Inspiration4 crew and their flight marks the first time that a spacecraft carried humans into space without any professional astronauts on board. 
"This is an awesome mission, an awesome experience and we are so thankful to the entire crew — Jared and Chris, Sian and Hayley — for participating and making this really become a reality," Benji Reed, senior director of human spaceflight programs at SpaceX, said in the news conference.
"Overall, the mission was great — beautiful weather from start to finish — and it was really a great experience for everybody on the ground, and Dragon performed very well," he added.
While in orbit, the crew performed a host of medical experiments, collecting samples and data that will help researchers better understand how microgravity affects the human body. 
During their flight, the crew traveled up to an altitude of 367 miles (590 km) above the Earth, according to SpaceX — higher than both the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope. That will hopefully provide more insight into space radiation and its effects on humans. 
"It's been really interesting to see how fluid shifts with this microgravity environment," Arceneaux told viewers during an in-flight broadcast on Sept. 17. "And that's something that scientists are looking at, so we're happy to contribute with that." 

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