SpaceX's Inspiration 4 crew returns to Earth
SpaceX's Inspiration 4 crew returns to Earth

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule with 4 private citizens has returned to Earth's atmosphere and completed the company's first civilian mission in space.

The Inspiration 4 crew was the first to enter orbit without a professional astronaut.

The Inspiration 4 mission took a total of 71 hours. The orbital flight has two goals: to raise US$200 million for St. Jude's Children's Hospital and to research how a passenger's body reacts to weightlessness.

Since launching Mission Inspiration 4 on Wednesday, St. Jude has raised nearly $20 million, increasing its total fundraising goal from its $200 million goal to nearly $153 million.

The crew's return to Earth seemed calm. As an envelope of plasma formed around the capsule as the capsule re-entered the atmosphere with turbulence, a communications outage of approximately 7 minutes was expected with the SpaceX Mission Control Center in California.

During the re-entry process, the spacecraft's outside temperature reached 1,926 degrees Celsius. But the crew's flight suits and air conditioning in the space capsule kept them quiet.

The initial set of two parachutes was deployed as planned, reducing the capsule's speed from 563 km / h to 160 km / h.

The return of SpaceX's first civilian mission

In less than a minute, these parachutes were lifted to nearly 1,800 feet above sea level. Instead, there are four main parachutes that slow the spacecraft down as it drops to about 15 miles per hour.

The capsule was lifted out of the water by the company's Go Searcher ship about half an hour after it fell.

Scott Pettit, Inspiration 4 mission manager, told reporters at a post-flight press conference that the crew was in a good mood after leaving Crew Dragon.

The crew reached orbit at an altitude of approximately 584 kilometers during the three-day flight. They video chatted with patients in St. Jude. Ring the bell of the New York Stock Exchange. They are in touch with their friends and family.

The crew is collecting data for a scientific study to investigate how microgravity affects the human body. In Friday's video, employees showed off the devices they use to measure the pressure on his skull.

The Crew Dragon capsule, called Resilience, is the same spacecraft that sent four government astronauts to the International Space Station nearly a year ago.

Some modifications were made to the capsule and a glass dome was installed in the usual place of the capsule door. This gives occupants a 360-degree view of the space. The overhead area can comfortably accommodate up to three passengers in the dome.

In addition to the official mission objectives, Inspiration 4 also shows that flying in orbit is no longer just a patent for government astronauts. Other missions followed, including the first special mission to the International Space Station next year.

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