Groundbreaking Mission Shows Ordinary Americans Can Handle the Daunting Rigors of Space Travel
In an age when NASA has largely ceased to break ground, private industry is filling in quite nicely.
On Wednesday, a SpaceX rocket launched the first space mission comprised entirely of non-astronauts into orbit for a few days of tourism on the final frontier.
“The team of amateurs — which include a billionaire who self-funded the mission, a cancer survivor, a community college teacher and a Lockheed Martin employee — strapped into their 13-foot-wide SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule Wednesday afternoon before their SpaceX rocket roared to life and blasted the capsule into orbit,” CNN reported.
“The crew will remain aboard their capsule for three days as it flies through orbit before returning for a splashdown landing off the coast of Florida on Saturday.”
History has been made as a SpaceX rocket soared into orbit, carrying four people — none of whom are professional astronauts. The launch of Inspiration4 kicks off the first-ever mission to Earth’s orbit crewed entirely by tourists. https://t.co/KPzgbiLBCz pic.twitter.com/AaXmrsfu5f
— CNN (@CNN) September 16, 2021
According to CNN, the Crew Dragon capsule will complete one orbit of Earth every 90 minutes flying at over 17,000 mph.
View of an orbital sunset from Dragon’s cupola pic.twitter.com/Fl1fLrXD9o
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 18, 2021
The mission boasts plenty of firsts — even more than most people realized.
Yes, there was plenty of coverage about how it was the first space mission flown by amateur astronauts. Much has been made of 29-year-old Hayley Arceneux, a childhood cancer survivor, being the youngest American to reach outer space.
Jared Isaacman, the 38-year-old CEO who personally financed the trip, has received a bit of coverage for his interesting backstory, having dropped out of high school to take a job in computer technical support. The other crew members were picked through a raffle.
They rang the stock market’s closing bell. They talked with Tom Cruise.
VIEW FROM ABOVE: The all-civilian crew of @SpaceX’s Inspiration4 rang the stock market’s closing bell, spoke with Tom Cruise and answered questions from kids at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital while in orbit. pic.twitter.com/7IMnmHJgmw
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) September 18, 2021
And, yes, there was even some coverage of the toilet aboard the Crew Dragon module.
Here’s one of the most secret yet useful systems on the spacecraft… our toilet! There’s a curtain for privacy, and the rest is really just technicalities… let’s just say that the only advantage is the view. ? Shoutout to its designer @SpaceX! https://t.co/pL3lD2UGF6 pic.twitter.com/AbB3cCNe4Z
— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) April 25, 2021
However, the biggest accomplishment here is the beginning of real space tourism — and all from a private American company.
Yes, both Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos have launched spaceflights through Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, respectively. These were short affairs that barely escaped the Earth’s atmosphere, however — not something that resembled a NASA spaceflight from the olden days. They also involved trained astronauts.
Now, SpaceX is offering space travel so easy even amateurs can do it.
Keep in mind that four ordinary civilians who only had six months of training, according to CNBC, were able to successfully orbit Earth and handle the rigors of space travel.
Yes, most of it may be controlled from the ground, but that’s entirely the point — this kind of thing is going to become a lot more common in the years to come.
As CNN noted, “SpaceX hopes this will be the first of many similar tourism missions, paving the way toward a future when it’s as common to take a jaunt to space as it is to hop on an airplane.”
That’s the important lesson to take away: If you’re in good health and are willing to boldly go where few have gone before, you can.
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