SpaceX Uses Returned Crew Dragon to Send First Space Tourists Into Orbit

Recently, a short piece of news was published on HabrĂ© that SpaceX managed to return a team of astronauts from the ISS to Earth without any problems. This is in many ways a remarkable flight, because, firstly, it proves the reliability of the company’s technology, secondly, it shows that spacecraft can be used repeatedly, and thirdly, it opens the way for SpaceX and its customers to space tourism.

It is worth recalling that Crew Dragon returned a team that had spent 167 days at the station. During this time, she made 2688 revolutions around the Earth. After entering the atmosphere, the capsule splashed down at night in the Gulf of Mexico. Immediately after the capsule was discovered, it turned out that the astronauts are in excellent shape, as much as possible after so many days in space in zero gravity, and no less excellent mood. Mike Hopkins, one of the team members, said he truly believes SpaceX is changing the world for the better. What needs to be done now?

Plans for the near future

It seems that Hopkins’ opinion can be trusted. The company plans to rebuild the capsule in the next few weeks, then engineers will remove the docking adapter that was used to connect the Crew Dragon and replace it with a domed window.

Well, then the device will be launched not to the ISS, but to a low Earth orbit, at an altitude of half a thousand kilometers. The crew are not professional astronauts, but a group of space tourists. The new mission was named Inspiration 4. Four ordinary people will become its participants. They will spend only three days in orbit. Well, they will be sent there in mid-September this year.

IT entrepreneur Jared Isaacman will head the first tourist team. He donated about $ 100 million to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and decided that those who also donated funds to the same hospital – at least $ 10 – would fly with him. The entrepreneur paid for the entire mission, including places for his companions.

During the mission, more than $ 70,000 applications were filed, so in addition to the Isaacman tranche, the hospital received several million more US dollars.

The composition of the entire team is already known. In addition to Isaacman, these are three more people:

  • Physician at St. Jude Hospital Haley Arseneau. She started working here after the hospital doctors managed to save her life as a child. It is quite logical that she will act as a doctor during the flight.
  • Chris Sembroski, ex-US Air Force. After completing his service, he earned a BA in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aviation University. During the mission, Sembroski will act as a flight engineer.
  • Sian Proctor, a geologist by profession. She is a finalist for NASA’s 2009 Astronaut Program. She was entrusted with the role of a pilot.

The mission will be launched into space from SpaceX 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket. Naturally, the entire team will undergo special training led by SpaceX representatives. Particular attention will be paid to orbital mechanics, work in microgravity, weightlessness and other nuances of being in near-earth space.

Other SpaceX successes

In general, there are many of them, here it is worth recalling only the most recent – the launch of the Falcon 9 with a restored stage and a restored Crew Dragon ship. This is the first flight in history when most of the rocket and the spacecraft have already been in space, then they were restored and sent on a space journey again.

Then, at the end of April, SpaceX did not send people to the ISS for the first time. This is the third such flight since the Demo-2 mission a year ago and Crew-1 in November 2020. The company seems to have achieved its main goal – to carry out full-cycle flights, re-using flying boosters and spent rocket stages. SpaceX received permission from NASA to use the spent systems when transporting astronauts to the ISS back in June 2020.

In general, we are now waiting for the new achievements of SpaceX. Here you can again quote the words of Mike Hopkins, the astronaut, who said that SpaceX is changing the world. Indeed, the company has changed a lot and continues to have a powerful positive impact on the development of astronautics.

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