Happy SpaceX tourist crew spend 1st day whizzing around Earth

2021-09-17, 6:52pm Innovation

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ASTRONAUT DAVID R. SCOTT - TRAINING - WEIGHTLESSNESS. Glen Research Centre. Wikimedia Commons.

WASHINGTON, Sept 17, 2021 - SpaceX's all-civilian Inspiration4

crew spent their first day in orbit conducting scientific research and

talking to children at a pediatric cancer hospital, after blasting off on

their pioneering mission from Cape Canaveral the night before.

St Jude tweeted its patients got to speak with the four American space

tourists, "asking the questions we all want to know like 'are there cows on

the Moon?'"

Billionaire Jared Isaacman, who chartered the flight, is trying to raise

$200 million for the research facility.

Inspiration4 is the first orbital spaceflight with only private citizens

aboard.

Earlier, Elon Musk's company tweeted that the four were "healthy" and

"happy," had completed their first round of scientific research, and enjoyed

a couple of meals.

Musk himself tweeted that he had personally spoken with the crew and "all

is well."

By now, they should have also been able to gaze out from the Dragon ship's

cupola -- the largest space window ever built, which has been fitted onto the

vessel for the first time in place of its usual docking mechanism.

- Most humans in space -

The Inspiration4 mission also brings the total number of humans currently

in space to 14 -- a new record. In 2009, there were 13 people on the

International Space Station (ISS).

There are currently seven people aboard the ISS, including two Russian

cosmonauts, and three Chinese astronauts on spaceship Shenzhou-12, which is

bound home after its crew spent 90 days at the Tiangong space station.

Isaacman, physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux, geoscientist Sian Proctor

and aerospace data engineer Chris Sembroski are whizzing around the planet at

an altitude that at times reaches 590 kilometers (367 miles).

That is deeper in space than the ISS, which orbits at 420 kilometers (260

miles), and the furthest any humans have ventured since a 2009 maintenance

mission for the Hubble telescope.

Their ship is moving at about 17,500 mph (28,000 kph) and each day they

will experience about 15 sunrises and sunsets.

Their high speed means they are experiencing time slightly slower than

people on the surface, because of a phenomenon called "relative velocity time

dilation."

Apart from fundraising for charity, the mission aims to study the

biological effects of deep space on the astronauts' bodies.

"Missions like Inspiration4 help advance spaceflight to enable ultimately

anyone to go to orbit & beyond," added Musk in a tweet.

The space adventure bookends a summer marked by the battle of the

billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos to reach the final frontier.

But these flights only offered a few minutes of weightlessness -- rather

than the three full days of orbit the Inspiration4 crew will experience,

before splashing down off the coast of Florida on Saturday. - AFP