After their journey into space, the first space crew consisting of only four lay astronauts landed back on earth on Sunday night. The “Crew Dragon” space capsule of the private US space company SpaceX operated by star entrepreneur Elon Musk set in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida on Saturday shortly after 7:00 p.m. (1:00 p.m. CEST), as was shown on a live video broadcast by the company .
A SpaceX ship received the four US passengers, who waved and got out of the capsule with big smiles.
After its launch on Wednesday evening from the Cape Canaveral spaceport, the “Dragon” space capsule had circled the earth for the past three days.
There was no professional astronaut on board the mission named “Inspiration4”; the “Dragon” space capsule flew largely automatically.
The spacecraft needed around 90 minutes to travel around the earth at around 30,000 kilometers per hour. At a height of 580 kilometers above the earth, it floated even higher than the International Space Station (ISS).
“Welcome to the second space age”
“It’s been an amazing trip for all of us, but things are only really getting started now,” said 38-year-old US billionaire Jared Isaacman, who chartered the space excursion, shortly after landing. With him on board were the medical assistant Hayley Arceneaux, the geoscientist Sian Proctor and the aerospace engineer Chris Sembrosk.
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After surviving cancer as a child, 29-year-old Arceneaux became the youngest American woman in orbit to date. Sembroski, 42, is a US Air Force veteran. Proctor, 51, almost got selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009. “Best flight of my life!” She wrote on Twitter.
“Welcome to the second space age,” said mission leader Todd Ericson at a post-landing press conference. With the successful completion of the mission, “space travel will become much more accessible for the average man and woman”.
“Congratulations, Inspiration4 !!!” wrote SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Twitter. During the trip, among other things, the heart rate, blood oxygen levels and cognitive abilities of the four passengers were monitored in order to study the effects of space on laypeople.
SpaceX is already planning the next tourist flights into space. In fact, “the number of people who contact us through our sales and marketing portals has increased significantly,” said Benji Reed, head of the manned space programs at SpaceX. The next flight with three business people on board is therefore scheduled for January 2022.
Bells ring for Wall Street
Isaacman is already the third billionaire in a few months to venture into space from the United States. In July, the Briton Richard Branson and about ten days later Amazon founder Jeff Bezos tested their own spaceships for the first time – but both only with short excursions of a few minutes and a significantly lower altitude. Neither he nor SpaceX wanted to reveal how much Isaacman paid to charter the “Dragon” spaceship.
The “Inspiration4” mission went much further than the flights of Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Bezos’ Blue Orgin, where passengers were only a few minutes in space.
Isaacman selected the fellow travelers through various charity campaigns because he wants to collect donations for a children’s hospital in the US state of Tennessee with the mission.
During the all-excursion, which is also being documented on the Netflix streaming service, the four amateur astronauts passed the time in the cramped capsule with conversations with actor Tom Cruise or SpaceX founder Musk, among others.
The bell that gives the signal to stop trading on the New York Stock Exchange was also allowed to ring virtually on Friday evening. In terms of food, the crew was provided with much more elaborate food than conventional and longer missions: In addition to coffee and tea, there were sandwiches, pasta with Bolognese sauce and a pile of sweets. (dpa, AFP)
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Lay astronauts land back on earth after a trip into space