SpaceX Inspiration4’s all-civilian astronaut crew brought meteorite back to space (briefly)

After spending 50,000 years on Earth, a meteorite had the chance to visit space again for nearly three days, during the all-civilian Inspiration4 mission in September.

Pilot Sian Proctor shared a video on Twitter Friday (December 10) showing a fragment of the huge Canyon Diablo space rock that crashed into northern Arizona, forming Barringer Crater (better known as Meteor Crater.)

“This is the first meteorite to be returned to space,” Proctor said in the tweet, which showed the meteorite against a 360-degree dome that replaced SpaceX’s traditional Crew Dragon docking mechanism. (Since Inspiration4 didn’t visit the International Space Station, it didn’t need the mechanism.)

Inspiration4: SpaceX’s historic private space flight in photos

A collaboration with Arizona State University allowed the institution’s graduate Proctor to fly the 4.4-ounce (127-gram) fragment into space. More than 30 metric tons of material were recovered from the original impactor, according to the ASU, which had a diameter of between 98 and 164 feet (30 to 50 meters).

Proctor thanked ASU Professor Meenakshi (Mini) Wadhwa, Director of the University School of Earth and Space Exploration, for making the collaboration possible. Wadhwa announced the meteorite’s brief space travel in a tweet in October, adding that the rock will be on permanent display at the school’s exploration gallery.

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It appears that the practice of collecting rocks in space will be useful for Wadhwa. She is also a Program Scientist for NASA’s Mars Sample Return Mission, which is expected to return part of the Red Planet to Earth in 2031. In this role, Wadhwa will be responsible for scientific integrity and success global scientific program “, ASU officials. wrote when she was appointed to the post in April.

A major objective of the Inspiration4 The mission, in addition to transporting four civilians to space funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman, was to raise $ 200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The mission exceeded their fundraising goal on the day of disembarkation.

As for Proctor, during the mission, she stressed her hope that space one day aligns with the acronym “JEDI”, which stands for fair, equitable, diverse and inclusive. Proctor, 51, was the first black female pilot in space and the oldest black female astronaut.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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