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First all-civilian crew launched to orbit aboard SpaceX rocket ship

First all-civilian crew launched to orbit aboard SpaceX rocket ship

September 21, 2021

A SpaceX webcast of the launch showed Isaacman, 38, and his crewmates - Sian Proctor, 51, Hayley Arceneaux, 29, and Chris Sembroski, 42 - strapped into the pressurized cabin of their gleaming white SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed Resilience, wearing their helmeted black-and-white flight suits.

Inspiration4, as the tourism mission that concluded Saturday was called, was far from the first time people who don't list astronaut as their day job have been to space. In the 2000s, a cohort of wealthy thrill seekers paid their way onto the International Space Station, traveling via Russian Soyuz rockets. And in July, billionaire Space Company founders Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos each took a brief trip to suborbital space in spacecraft their respective companies built.

The Inspiration4 flight was notable, however, because it was the first time SpaceX had used one of its Crew Dragon spacecraft, which was developed to carry professional astronauts to and from the International Space Station on behalf of NASA, for an entirely private mission.



SpaceX has even more such missions on its Crew Dragon schedule, including five already contracted for additional groups of tourists to fly in the months and years ahead. The company is underway developing its "Starship" vehicle, a gargantuan rocket and spacecraft system that promises to be the most powerful ever launched. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has also booked a trip on that rocket for a trip around the moon, and NASA could use it for its lunar landing ambitions.

SpaceX's goal is to make extraterrestrial travel a more regular occurrence so that — if and when Earth's orbit is home to extraterrestrial hotels and manufacturing facilities — outer space becomes relatively more accessible for the general population. Space tourism may also one day help fund SpaceX's ambitious goals of attempting Martian colonization.


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