The SpaceX Inspiration4 Launch was a Success, Now You Can Follow the Dragon

The highly-anticipated SpaceX Inspiration4 mission launched four civilians into space last night, September 15, at 8:03 p.m. EDT. The launch was a complete success in a few different ways, but most importantly, all four astronauts are in Earth’s orbit safely. What’s even better is that us civilians at home can even track the Dragon space capsule that the crew is cruising through space in.

“Inspiration4 is go for launch. Punch it, SpaceX!”

A Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon capsule launches from pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States on September 15, 2021.
A Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon capsule launches from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States on September 15, 2021. | (Photo by Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Inspiration4 mission is comprised of four civilians that come from different walks of life. The crew includes Sian Proctor, a pilot; Haley Arceneaux, a medical officer; Chris Sembroski, a mission specialist; and Jared Issacman, the mission’s commander. Isaacman is also a billionaire entrepreneur and the founder of Shift4 Payments, so he also purchased all four seats on the inaugural space flight for an undisclosed amount, according to CNBC.

The Inspiration4 crew has been training with SpaceX since the launch was announced back in February of this year. The “Dragon” capsule that the crew is orbiting around Earth in was developed “with a heavy investment” by NASA, which has flown 10 professional astronauts on the spacecraft thus far. When asked how he felt about the mission before liftoff, Issacman responded by saying that he had “no jitters” and was “excited to get going.”

That definitely rang true when the launch finally arrived. Issacman radioed to the flight controllers, “Inspiration4 is go for launch. Punch it, SpaceX!”

The Falcon9’s engines then lifted the craft away from Earth at 8:03 p.m. EDT, boosting it into the night sky and away from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Two rocket fires and nine-and-a-half minutes later, the Crew Dragon capsule was safely in orbit at an altitude of 357 miles, which is 100 miles above the International Space Station.

According to CBS, that’s higher than anyone has flown since 2009 when the shuttle mission went to the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Inspiration4 launch covered a number of milestones

While the historic Inspiration4 launch was a success when it came to getting the civilian astronauts into orbit, it also meant success in other areas. First, it marked the debut flight of SpaceX’s new space orbital tourism business. But it also came with a number of milestones:

  • First entirely nonprofessional crew to become astronauts
  • First Black female pilot of spaceflight
  • Youngest American citizen to fly in space
  • First private SpaceX spaceflight

Couple those achievements with the mission’s original goals raising $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Hospital Research as well as conducting medical research during the flight, and we would say that it will be a huge success when the spacecraft returns to Earth.

You can follow the Dragon capsule while it’s in orbit

Media photographers set up cameras to take the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and a Crew Dragon capsule
Media photographers set up cameras to take the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and a Crew Dragon capsule at pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on September 15, 2021. | (Photo by Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

If you’re feeling a little left out from all of this ground-breaking space travel while sitting at your computer at home, then you’ll be happy to know that you can follow the Dragon capsule online. The SpaceX website has a really cool graphic that shows where the capsule is in Earth’s orbit.

The Crew Dragon is currently 363 miles from the surface of Earth and is circling the globe every 90 minutes at a speed of around 17,000 miles per hour. The crew has an amazing view as well since the capsule was fitted with a large dome-shaped viewing window in place of the usual docking port.

The crew is scheduled to orbit around the Earth for a few days before splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean. There aren’t any onboard cameras in the capsule, however, we should be getting updates from the mission over the next few days.

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