Compared to the glorified minutes-long rollercoaster rides that billionaires Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) on Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic) their space tourists, the four participants in the first commercial flight with the Crew Dragon from space company SpaceX – mission name: Inspiration4 – really get their money’s worth. They will remain in orbit for three days after launch, in a manner similar to how astronauts fly to and from the International Space Station. Only a visit to the station itself is missing.
The mission is therefore not technically innovative. SpaceX works with vehicles that have long demonstrated their capabilities. Rocket Falcon 9 has already completed nearly 70 launches, and the spaceship used, the Crew Dragon, has also proven its worth as a shuttle vehicle for professional astronauts. Only new: the part of the Dragon that normally docks with the ISS will be replaced for this mission by a glass dome that should offer passengers spectacular views of our planet.
It is therefore especially the firsts that make Inspiration4 remarkable. With the mission, SpaceX brings commercial tourists into orbit for the first time, among other things. But the most striking thing is the expertly decorated media circus, including a real reality series. in miniseries’Countdown: inspiration4 mission to spaceNetflix subscribers can follow the crew’s operations in detail.
The first episodes have already appeared online in the past three weeks, each 45 minutes. It will be a five-part series in total. The launch itself is expected to be followed live on Wednesday – the official departure time has not yet been announced – from the streaming service’s YouTube account.
Where the space missions of billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson in addition to praise for the results, above all a lot of criticism got for them seemingly useless pleasure flights to space, where equals Elon Musk tries to publicize his mission more carefully.
For example, unlike Bezos and Branson, Musk does not board Inspiration4 himself. Instead, the flight was paid for by another billionaire, Jared Isaacman. However, unlike Bezos and Branson, Isaacman is a pilot with flight experience in military fighter jets.
In addition, Isaacman has given away two other spots to the American St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital that researches childhood cancer. That provided, among other things, a chair for hospital employee Hayley Arceneaux, who herself was cured of bone cancer in her youth. In total Inspiration4 . has in their own words now collected nearly $30 million (of a target of 100 million) in donations for the hospital.
Finally, SpaceX will also make space on board the Dragon for (short-term) scientific experiments into the influence of microgravity, “inspiring projects that otherwise would not have overcome the high barriers of traditional space research,” as the company itself writes on its website.
With a sense of historical perspective, the four-person crew will depart on Wednesday from the famous launch pad 39A in Florida, where other SpaceX flights and various Apollo and Space Shuttle missions have already started their cosmic journeys. After the trip, the ship plunges safely into the Atlantic Ocean.