Space tourists return to Earth after three days in orbit | Space News

The spacecraft developed by Elon Musk splashed in a calm sea off Florida on Saturday night.

Four space tourists aboard the SpaceX Inspiration4 mission splashed safely off the coast of Florida on Saturday, completing the first-ever three-day mission to orbit Earth without professional astronauts on board.

The SpaceX Dragon’s heat shield allowed it to withstand the descent, before it was slowed down by four large parachutes and then splashed into the ocean just after 7 p.m. (11 p.m. GMT), according to a live video feed from the society.

The return from orbit followed a dive into the Earth’s atmosphere generating frictional heat that raised temperatures around the exterior of the capsule to 1,927 degrees Celsius (3,500 degrees Fahrenheit). The group’s flight suits, fitted with special ventilation systems, were designed to keep them cool if the cabin warmed up.

A SpaceX ship ran to retrieve the capsule and allow the four to exit the craft.

“It was a hell of a ride for us, and we’re just getting started,” billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman, who paid for the trip, said over the radio from the capsule moments after the landing.

The capsule’s heat shield helped protect it from the extreme heat of re-entry, and its descent into the Atlantic Ocean off Florida was slowed by four parachutes. [SpaceX/Handout via Reuters]

SpaceX, the private rocket company founded by Elon Musk, the chief executive of electric car maker Tesla, supplied the spacecraft, launched it from Florida, and flew it from the company’s headquarters in the suburbs. from Los Angeles.

Isaacman paid an undisclosed sum for the four seats of the mission.

He selected three other people to join him – geoscientist and former NASA astronaut candidate Sian Proctor, 51, physician assistant and childhood bone cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux, 29, and engineer Data Scientist and Air Force Veteran Chris Sembroski, 42.

Isaacman designed the flight primarily to raise awareness and donate for one of his favorite causes, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a major pediatric cancer center in Memphis, Tennessee, where Arceneaux was a patient and now works.

After undergoing medical checks at sea, the group will be returned by helicopter to Cape Canaveral where it took off on Wednesday.

Inspiration4 crew seen on their first day in space [SpaceX/Handout via Reuters]

Two rival operators, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, are also developing space tourism, with their respective founding executives, billionaires Richard Branson and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, each of them.

These suborbital flights, lasting a few minutes, were short leaps from the three days of Inspiration4 in orbit.

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Travis Durham

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