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The first mission to take civilians into Earth orbit was successfully ended this Saturday, 18. After a three-day trip, the spacecraft SpaceX, billionaire’s space exploration company Elon Musk, landed off the coast of Florida, in the Atlantic Ocean, at 20:07 (GMT).
The mission, called Inspiration4, is historic and puts Elon Musk at the forefront of the space tourism race. Tourist flights to space carried out in July by Blue Origin, from Jeff Bezos, and for Virgin Galactic, from Richard Branson, stayed at lower altitudes and never entered orbit. SpaceX had already become last year the first private company to carry out a manned orbital flight – however, at the time, the ship had the presence of professional astronauts.
Preparations for the Crew Dragon capsule to re-enter the atmosphere began on Friday, the 17th, with de-altitude maneuvers and alignment of the capsule’s trajectory with the landing site – during the voyage, the spacecraft reached an altitude of 575 km, well above the position of the International Space Station, which is in orbit 408 km away from Earth.
On Saturday night, the capsule’s first parachutes opened at 8:03 pm and, a minute later, the main parachutes were deployed to cushion the landing. The ship landed in the ocean at 20:07 – then vessels went to receive the crew. Ten minutes before landing, at the time of re-entry into the atmosphere, the capsule went through a four-minute “blackout” period, with no communication with Earth.
Review the landing transmission below:
Unlike Bezos and Branson, Elon Musk Did Not Embark On The Adventure. Four passengers participated in the mission: Jared Isaacman (38-year-old billionaire, founder of payments company Shift4 Payments), Hayley Arceneaux (29-year-old doctor who survived bone cancer), Chris Sembroski (42-year-old US Air Force veteran). years) and Sian Proctor (51 years old geologist). Crew members have participated in training and simulation with SpaceX since February.
Isaacman paid for all seats on the flight – the amount disbursed was not disclosed. The plan is to use the trip to raise funds for an American childhood cancer treatment hospital. Among the Inspiration4 shipments will be a set of health-related experiments, and objects used in the trip will be auctioned. The mission intends to raise US$ 200 million to the research hospital – Isaacman will donate another $100 million.
For the past three days, the crew have circled the Earth every 90 minutes. On Friday, 17th, passengers participated in a broadcast of approximately 10 minutes direct from space, in which they spoke about the experience and showed some objects that they took for the trip. Isaacman claimed the Crew Dragon capsule was traveling at 7.6 kilometers per second. “We are very proud to share this experience with everyone. We know how fortunate we are to be here,” said the billionaire.
Chris Sembroski even played the ukulele inside the ship during the broadcast – the instrument will be one of the items to be used in the charity auction. Hayley Arceneaux, on the other hand, showed a portable ultrasound, used to examine passengers.
The SpaceX flight is a new leap in tourist space travel. The ship with Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, reached an altitude of 107 km and traveled for 10 minutes, while the glider with Richard Branson reached 80.5 km in a 90-minute flight. Neither of the two vehicles ever entered orbit, and they passed far from the location of the International Space Station.
“The Inspiration4 trip is of another order of magnitude. Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin’s initiatives were just tours, while SpaceX completed a real space mission,” says Cassio Leandro Dal Ri Barbosa, astronomer and professor at the FEI University Center.
For Alexandre Zabot, professor of Aerospace Engineering at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), SpaceX’s flight consolidates a new era in the sector.
“This type of voyage requires rockets with a very different cargo launch capability into space. Until then, we saw some punctual adventures related to space tourism. Now, we already see three companies showing mature technologies and making inaugural flights with civilians,” says Zabot. “The doors are open for permanent space tourism, managed by private companies”.
Bezos and Branson recognized the success of Inspiration4. “Congratulations Elon Musk, SpaceX and team on the successful launch of Inspiration4 last night. It’s another step towards a future of a space accessible to all”, said the founder of Amazon on Twitter on Thursday, 18. Also on the social network, Branson congratulated the company for reaching the orbit and said that the trip is “another great moment for space exploration”.