Splash Down! The SpaceX Inspiration4 Dragon Capsule Returns to Earth Safely

After spending three days in orbit, the four civilian astronauts on SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission touched down on Earth safely last Saturday, September 18. The crew’s main mission was to raise money and awareness for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in addition to running various health tests onboard. However, upon landing back on Earth, the Inspiration4 crew’s mission went above and beyond the mission’s initial objectives.

“Your mission has shown the world that space travel is for all of us.”

Inspiration4 mission commander Jared Isaacman, founder and chief executive officer of Shift4 Payments, stands for a portrait in front of the recovered first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket at Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Inspiration4 mission commander Jared Isaacman, founder and chief executive officer of Shift4 Payments, stands for a portrait in front of the recovered first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket at Space Exploration Technologies Corp. | (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Inspiration4 mission launched successfully on Wednesday, September 15, which catapulted the four civilians into space, just above the height of the International Space Station. The crew then orbited the planet every 90 minutes at a speed of over 17,000 miles per hour and at an altitude of 363 miles for three days, reports Sky News.

When it was time to come back to Earth, the “Dragon Crew” capsule that the crew was in reached a surface temperature of 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit when it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and touched down in the Atlantic Ocean.

The crew itself consisted of Commander Jared Isaacman, pilot Sian Proctor, medical officer Haley Arceneaux, and mission specialist Chris Sembrosk, all of whom were strangers before embarking on this trip. The main objective of the trip was to raise money and awareness for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, but the crew also showed the world that space travel could be a common undertaking for the general public in the future.

“Your mission has shown the world that space travel is for all of us,” radioed SpaceX Mission Control as the capsule returned to the Earth’s surface.

“It was a heck of a ride… we’re just getting started,” replied Isaacman.

The SpaceX Inspiration4 crew achieved its goals and more

The Inspiration4 crew was all smiles when it returned to Earth as there was a lot more to be happy about than the mission launching, orbiting, and landing successfully. As mentioned before, one of the main objectives of the mission was to raise $200 million for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the crew achieved it with the help of SpaceX founder himself, Elon Musk. The crew was able to raise $160.2 million by Saturday, however, Musk donated an extra $50 million to the cause after the crew returned, effectively beating the goal by $10 million.

Aboard the Dragon Crew space capsule, the crew also enjoyed breath-taking views through a large bubble-shaped window in addition to spending time chatting with St. Jude patients. They also conducted medical tests on themselves and even rang the New York Stock Exchange closing bell. Fortunately, they didn’t have to eat the typical freeze-dried space food, instead, the crew dined on cold pizza, sandwiches, and pasta Bolognese.

Elon Musk took a shot at President Biden after the Inspiration4 landing

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft is lifted onto the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after it landed with NASA
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft is lifted onto the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after it landed with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on board in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. | Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

After the SpaceX Inspiration4 crew safely landed the capsule, there was applause from around the globe. According to CNBC, accolades poured in from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin, and even Jeff Bezos. But one important U.S. official, President Joe Biden was a little late on his congratulations.

One SpaceX Twitter follower tweeted the following to Elon Musk asking, “The President of the United States has refused to even acknowledge the 4 newest American astronauts who helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for St. Jude. What’s your theory on why that is?”

Musk replied to the comment: “He’s still sleeping.”

How much does a SpaceX flight cost?

FLORIDA, UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 15: A Falcon 9 rocket and a Crew Dragon capsule stand ready to launch at pad 39A at NASAâs Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida on September 15, 2021. SpaceX is scheduled to launch the first completely private Inspiration4 mission at 8:02 p.m. tonight, carrying four civilians into orbit, with a splashdown 3 days later off the coast of Florida. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The SpaceX Inspiration4 flight and landing piqued the interest of many hopeful future space travelers across the globe. Benji Reed, Senior Director of Human Spaceflight Programs for SpaceX, told reporters, “The amount of people who are approaching us through our sales and marketing portals has actually increased significantly. There’s tons of interest rolling in now.”

However, the exact pricing on a SpaceX flight is yet to be released, but if we had to guess, it could cost around the same price as the Virgin Galactic flights. Either way, this maiden voyage has made history and has opened the door to civilian space travel in the coming years.   

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