SpaceX launch - live stream: SpaceX capsule begins series of manoeuvres to lower altitude for landing

© SpaceX inspiration4 launch.jpg

LIVE – Updated at 04:45

After spending about two days in orbit aboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule, conducting scientific research, enjoying a few meals, interacting with people on Earth, and even placing a sports bet from space, the spacecraft has begun a series of manoeuvres to lower orbit for landing.

The team is currently flying in an orbit 565km above the Earth after circling around the planet several times at heights of 585km and 575km, SpaceX noted.

Dragon will perform two burns tonight to reduce the spacecraft’s altitude to ~365km and line up the ground track with the landing site

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 17, 2021

The crew has experienced over 25 sunrises and 25 sunsets since they’ve been in space.

Second burn complete. Dragon and the @inspiration4x crew are now in the targeted 365km orbit

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 17, 2021

They will fall back down to Earth after spending 3 days in space, landing in the ocean for a splashdown.

If the mission is a success, it will mark a major step forward for space tourism, and for Elon Musk and SpaceX’s plans to make it accessible to anyone with the money to fund a rocket and spacecraft to carry them to orbit.

Key Points

  • Crew to use specially designed gadgets for space health research
  • Capsule’s nose cone opens to reveal spacecraft’s latest hardware – domed window
  • Falcon 9 nails the landing

04:31 , Vishwam Sankaran

The Inspiration4 crew is scheduled to return to Earth at 7:06 p.m. EDT on Saturday.

The Dragon spacecraft would perform a series of maneuvers to lower to an altitude of about 365km today and line up with the landing site in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida, SpaceX tweeted.

Dragon’s first burn to reduce the spacecraft’s altitude is complete

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 17, 2021

Bezos and Musk friendly over Inspiration4 success

Friday 17 September 2021 11:16 , Andrew Griffin

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have been falling out recently, mostly over the contracts won by Musk’s SpaceX to take astronauts to the Moon, which Bezos has attempted to get back for his own Blue Origin through legal processes. Musk has repeatedly mocked Bezos.

The Inspiration4 mission is also a reminder of how much further along with space tourism SpaceX is than Blue Origin. Bezos’s trip to space was much hyped, but he barely touched the edge; it doesn’t have the capability for anything like the three-day trip that Inspiration4 represents.

They appear to have found common cause, however, in the (perhaps questionable) belief that this very expensive trip is a journey towards making space availlable to everyone.

Thank you

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 16, 2021

Friday 17 September 2021 06:15 , Vishwam Sankaran

The inspiration4 crew has so far completed over 15 orbits during their first day in space.

The crew of #Inspiration4 had an incredible first day in space! They’ve completed more than 15 orbits around planet Earth since liftoff and made full use of the Dragon cupola.

— Inspiration4 (@inspiration4x) September 17, 2021

Over the course of the last 24 hours, the astronauts have conducted a set of science experiments, answered questions from patients at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and even made a historic first sports bet from outer space.

Mission completed. @rookisaacman just became the FIRST person to ever place a bet from outer space to Las Vegas 🚀

As part of the mission, @Inspiration4x and BetMGM will be each donating $25,000 to @StJude!

— BetMGM 🦁 (@BetMGM) September 16, 2021

Where will Inspiration4 land?

Friday 17 September 2021 06:00 , Adam Smith

When the craft re-enters the atmosphere, two ‘drogue’ parachutes will be deployed, followed by four main canopies to alleviate the fall.

Currently, it is unclear where exactly the craft will descent, but it is planned to fall into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida on 19 September at one of several possible landing sites. It will be a “soft water landing”, where hopefully no damage to the craft will occur.

Friday 17 September 2021 04:17 , Vishwam Sankaran

The Inspiration4 crew interacted from space with patients from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

The mission was conceived by commander Jared Isaacman mainly to raise awareness and support for the leading paediatric cancer centre.

This just in from @inspiration4x Mission Control. We can confirm that St. Jude patients got to speak with the crew live this afternoon, asking the questions we all want to know like “are there cows on the moon?” Standby and follow us for more. 🐄🌙

— St. Jude (@StJude) September 16, 2021

Mission’s “chief medical officer” Hayley Arceneaux is a bone cancer survivor turned St. Jude physicians’ assistant.

Friday 17 September 2021 04:00 , Adam Smith

The crew have also brought some personal items inside the craft.

Hayley Arceneaux brought a photograph of herself aged 10, when she was enduring bone cancer treatment, while Jared Isaacman is taking custom dragon pendants made for the trip. Christopher Sembroski is taking two pints that belonged to his mother-in-law’s great-grandmother, and Sian Proctor is taking a commemorative coin from Guam, given to her by her parents.

Friday 17 September 2021 02:00 , Adam Smith

As well as the Kings of Leon’s song, other items on board Inspiration4 include:

  • Inspiration4 mission jackets featuring unique artwork by St. Jude patients, and original artwork by the Inspiration4 crew members, that were created by Space for Art Foundation co-founders artist Ian Cion and retired Nasa astronaut Nicole Stott, and handmade by spacesuit replica artist Ryan Nagata.
  • 66 pounds of hops that, upon return, will be used to brew an out-of-this world beer by the brewers of Samuel Adams.
  • A Fisher Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Space Pen & Coin Set containing a piece of material from Apollo 11.
  • A ukulele from Martin Guitar that crew member Chris Sembroski will play in space.
  • 50 art NFTs from 50 different artists will be auctioned on Origin Protocol’s NFT platform in collaboration with Subtractive, including an NFT that crew member Dr. Sian Proctor will bring into space that was also a piece of physical art that previously travelled to the Mariana Trench, making it the first piece of art that went to the furthest ocean depths and then into orbit.
  • A handful of plastic and plush STEM toys based on the five characters from the popular animated STEM series, “Space Racers.”
  • A mini-astronaut plush that will be delivered to the winning bidder with an original collar designed by renowned artist Romero Britto.
  • The recent Time magazine with cover feature of the four crew members that they will autograph after the SpaceX Dragon capsule returns.
  • IWC Schaffhausen has designed and donated four unique, space-themed Pilot’s Watch Chronographs representing the mission’s values of Leadership, Hope, Generosity and Prosperity.
  • Customized Montblanc StarWalker Writing Instruments and stationeries for the crew to write about their journey in space.

The Kings of Leon’s NFT

Friday 17 September 2021 00:01 , Adam Smith

Also on the Inspiration4 mission is a non-fungible token by the band Kings of Leon, a never-before-released performance of the song Time in Disguise from the band’s newest album.

“We’re honored to participate in this historic journey in an effort to raise money for St. Jude, and we’re sending all our best to the crew of Inspiration4”, the band said in a statement.

Excited to share a peek into the #Inspiration4 mission payload! See how you can own a piece of history like the first NFT song to go to space from @KingsofLeon and other iconic items, benefiting the life-saving work of @StJude here on earth:

— Inspiration4 (@inspiration4x) September 9, 2021

Thursday 16 September 2021 22:00 , Adam Smith

SpaceX breached a new Dragon altitude record at a circular orbit of 585 kilometres, higher than both the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope – and 10 kilometres higher than the private space company initially planned.

Second phasing burn complete. Dragon and the @inspiration4x crew have reached a circular orbit of 585km – a new Dragon altitude record

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 16, 2021

Thursday 16 September 2021 20:00 , Adam Smith

This was the view from Inspiration4’s Dragon capsule cupola as it left the Earth

View from Dragon’s cupola

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 16, 2021

Thursday 16 September 2021 18:00 , Adam Smith

SpaceX shared new photos of Inspiration4’s launch.

Falcon 9 lifts off with Dragon and our four #Inspiration4 astronauts, captured with closeup pad cameras by @johnkrausphotos 📷🚀

— Inspiration4 (@inspiration4x) September 16, 2021

Thursday 16 September 2021 09:51 , Vishwam Sankaran

Currently there are a historic number of people in space, beating the previous record of 13 people in 2009.

The ISS flew right over us after Inspiration4 launched, which means I’ve seen 11 spacefarers in the sky tonight. Not bad.

— Marina Koren (@marinakoren) September 16, 2021

With the Inspiration4 capsule orbiting the Earth with its four-member all-civilian crew, there are 14 people in space right now, including seven astronauts aboard the ISS, and three on China’s space station.

🚀Historic tweet alert @marinakoren! 🚀

This means that today humanity has broken the record for the most humans in space at one time, with the previous record 13 back in 2009!#AdAstra#KeepLookingUp🔭@Harvard @CenterForAstro @DUCIGS @CEPA

— Dr. Benjamin L. Schmitt (@BLSchmitt) September 16, 2021

The SpaceX capsule and the International Space Station also are flying in the same plane, with the Inspiration4 crew passing witin 200km of the ISS few hours ago.

Yes, at 200 km range and 1000 km/hr relative flyby speed, I would think they would be able to spot each other as starlike objects

— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) September 16, 2021

Thursday 16 September 2021 08:06 , Vishwam Sankaran

Pizza in orbit?While the crew’s special food menu during their 3 days in orbit is still under wraps, each of the astronauts are getting their own requested comfort foods.

“The cold pizza better be packed, because that was my order,” mission pilot and American geology professor Sian Proctor said during a pre-launch interview.

“You know, food and mood is so important. So I think for us, it was really important working with SpaceX to get food that made us feel comfortable and that we could eat. And they’ve done a great job of accommodating that, because I think we’re all really happy.” Dr. Proctor added.

It remains to be seen what comfort food other members of the crew ordered, but Inspiration4 representatives say the astronauts will definitely show off their food in orbit. 

Crew to use specially designed gadgets for space health research

Thursday 16 September 2021 06:37 , Vishwam Sankaran

Over the course of the 3 days in orbit, the Inspiration4 crew will conduct a series of first-of-its-kind health research using special scientific equipment.

These include a special set of glasses to monitor who gets motion sickness, a portable ultrasound instrument that plugs into an iPad for studying their bodily fluids, and a miniaturised inflight blood/saliva analysis platform.

The astronauts will conduct these experiments, designed by the Translational Research Institute for Space Health, or TRISH, on themselves and on each other to inform how humans can best live in space.

Around the world 45 times

Thursday 16 September 2021 02:27 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Over the next three days the Inspiration4 crew will orbit the Earth 15 times every 24 hours.

They’ll be conducting experiments and enjoying the view, before splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.

We’ll have all the latest news and updates from their mission, but that’s all from us tonight. In case you missed it, here’s what the launch looked like:

One small step for civilian space tourists…

Thursday 16 September 2021 01:29 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The nose cone has opened, revealing the latest piece of hardware onboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft: a domed window.

It will offer unrivalled views of Earth and space, and perhaps just as importantly, it gives the all-civilian crew their Neil Armstrong ‘one small step for (a) man…’ moment.

“The door is wide open and the view is spectacular,” says crew commander Jared Isaacman.

© Provided by The Independent (SpaceX)

Crew Dragon floats away from second stage rocket

Thursday 16 September 2021 01:22 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The Inspiration4 crew are alone in the Crew Dragon capsule, having separated from both rocket boosters.

They have opened up their visors and the anti-gravity indicator is floating. It’s apparently a Golden Retriever cuddly toy in honour of the emotional support dogs at St Jude Children’s hospital.

© Provided by The Independent (SpaceX)

Falcon 9 nails the landing

Thursday 16 September 2021 01:15 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The Falcon 9 Stage 1 rocket has landed successfully on the drone ship.

Meanwhile in space, Crew Dragon is about to separate from the second stage booster rocket, which has already shut off.

The crew are giving thumbs up and appear to be weightless. They won’t feel Earth’s gravity for another three days.

Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon separate

Thursday 16 September 2021 01:07 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Three minutes in and we’ve seen the first stage separation followed by ignition of the second stage.

The Falcon 9 will now return to Earth to land on a drone ship.

It couldn’t be going more smoothly.

“Everything continues to look nominal,” SpaceX says.

Thursday 16 September 2021 01:05 , Anthony Cuthbertson

© Provided by The Independent (SpaceX)

We have lift off!

Thursday 16 September 2021 01:03 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Inspiration4 has lifted off!

T-Minus 1 minute

Thursday 16 September 2021 01:02 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Just 60 seconds left to go…

What to expect following launch of SpaceX Inspiration4 launch

Thursday 16 September 2021 01:00 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Here’s a handy diagram from SpaceX showing what to expect after lift off.

After Falcon 9 separates from Crew Dragon, the rocket booster returns to Earth and lands autonomously on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean (where it will be refurbished for reuse).

The Crew Dragon capsule continues into orbit. Only the second stage booster is unable to be recovered.

© Provided by The Independent (SpaceX)

Final message for Inspiration4 crew

Thursday 16 September 2021 00:55 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The final message from ground control to the Inspiration4 crew comes through: “Good luck, God speed, and enjoy the ride.”

‘Everything still looking good’ for SpaceX launch

Thursday 16 September 2021 00:52 , Anthony Cuthbertson

With just over 10 minutes to go, all is still going to plan.

With the propellent loaded, there is no restarting the countdown, however they can still put it on hold if there are any issues. There is also a backup launch window tomorrow, though hopefully it won’t need to be used.

“Everything is still looking good for launch of Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon,” SpaceX says.

T-Minus 15 minutes

Thursday 16 September 2021 00:49 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Just 900 seconds to go…

© Provided by The Independent (SpaceX)

SpaceX Inspiration4 systems checks continue

Thursday 16 September 2021 00:42 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The sky is beginning to darken in Florida, with just 20 minutes to go until launch time.

Systems checks are continuing, as propellent is loaded into the Falcon 9 rocket.

© Provided by The Independent (SpaceX)

SpaceX launch escape system armed

Thursday 16 September 2021 00:30 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The launch escape system has been armed, as is procedure.

It’s a reminder that there are still risks during the launch. By far the most dangerous parts of any space missions are the launch and landing.

Successes are far more common than failures these days, but they are not assured. We’ve put together a couple of graphics showing how the orbital launch rate is back on the ascendency following the post-Space Race dip.

© Provided by The Independent

And also how the orbital launch success rate has changed since the 1950s.

© Provided by The Independent

Crew access arm pulls away

Thursday 16 September 2021 00:21 , Anthony Cuthbertson

A major moment in the launch countdown, as the crew access arm is pulled away from the Crew Dragon capsule.

Next step is the propellent loading.

© Provided by The Independent (SpaceX)

T-Minus 1 hour!

Thursday 16 September 2021 00:05 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Just 60 minutes to go until lift off. It’s going to feel more like 60 hours for the Inspiration4 crew members.

Inspiration4 crew members reveal their personal items

Wednesday 15 September 2021 23:55 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The Inspiration4 crew has revealed what personal items they are taking up with them to space.

All of them are pins and rings and other family heirlooms, apart from Hayley Arceneaux, who is taking up a photo of herself.

But it’s not as narcissistic as it sounds, in fact quite the opposite. The photos is from when she was 10 years old, when she was completely bald while undergoing chemotherapy treatment for bone cancer.

She wants to take the picture up to space in order to hold it up while floating in zero gravity with all her hair. She says she hopes it will give hope to child cancer patients at the hospital she works at.

© Provided by The Independent

SpaceX launch time set for 2 mins after window opens

Wednesday 15 September 2021 23:43 , Anthony Cuthbertson

SpaceX has officially set the launch time for 8.02pm EST – just 2 minutes after the five hour launch window opens.

That’s just 80 minutes away.

SpaceX Inspiration4 launch ‘on time’

Wednesday 15 September 2021 23:30 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Everything still looks good for launch, which is now just over 90 minutes away.

“We are marching towards T-Zero on time,” SpaceX says.

Here’s a reminder of how high the Inspiration4 crew are actually going today.

© Provided by The Independent (SpaceX)

No human has been higher, other than those who have been to the Moon.

SpaceX Crew Dragon hatch closed

Wednesday 15 September 2021 23:14 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The hatch door of the Crew Dragon capsule has been closed.

We are now less than two hours away from the scheduled launch time.

SpaceX fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital

Wednesday 15 September 2021 23:13 , Anthony Cuthbertson

SpaceX’s fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital has raised more than $100,000 since the live stream began two hours ago.

More than $100 million of the $200 million target had already been raised before the stream began through donations from crew commander Jared Isaacman, as well as the raffle for Christopher Sembroski’s seat.

You can find out more about the campaign and how to donate here:

While you’re watching the @inspiration4x stream, would you consider donating to St. Jude?

Every dollar counts, whether it’s $4 for the four crew members or $300 for the three days they’ll be orbiting, your donation makes a big impact on patient families.

— St. Jude (@StJude) September 15, 2021

SpaceX launch comms checks complete

Wednesday 15 September 2021 22:55 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Comms checks are complete and so far everything is going according to plan.

“All looking good for on time launch,” SpaceX says.

SpaceX launch less than 2.5 hours away

Wednesday 15 September 2021 22:35 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The Inspiration4 crew are all safely strapped in to their seats onboard the Crew Dragon capsule.

Earlier we heard from SpaceX that weather conditions are nearly perfect, with “everything go for launch”.

Unlike other Crew Dragon launches that are bound for the International Space Station (ISS), there is a much bigger launch window for today’s launch.

In order to sync up with the space station, launches to the ISS have a window of just 1 second. Today’s launch window is five hours.

Inspiration4 crew smiling and dancing

Wednesday 15 September 2021 22:20 , Anthony Cuthbertson

As they head towards the Crew Dragon capsule, the crew of Inspiration4 can’t stop grinning.

Sian Proctor even does a little dance as she gets ready to board.

As is customary, they’ll sign the white board before entering Crew Dragon and settling into their seats.

They’ll have more than two and a half hours to wait before liftoff.

© Provided by The Independent (SpaceX)

Inspiration4 crew suited up and on their way to launch pad

Wednesday 15 September 2021 22:04 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The Inspiration4 crew are back in the Teslas, which will now transport them to the launch pad.

They’ve spent the last half an hour or so getting suited up and they all look remarkably calm. They’ve been fist bumping, waving and taking photos – usually with a big grin on their faces.

Less than three hours to go until launch.

The teacher whose journey to space began with a tweet

Wednesday 15 September 2021 21:54 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The final seat belongs to Sian Proctor, who won her place through an entrepreneur competition set up by Jared Isaacson.

Her first statement of intent to take part in the competition came in the form of a tweet: “Hello everyone, thank you for supporting my space art and poetry journey.”

She is the pilot and will embody “Prosperity” in the four virtues represented in the Inspiration4 mission.

You can read Proctor’s story here.

© Provided by The Independent

Sian Proctor profile: The teacher whose journey to space began with a poem

The man who won a trip to space with a raffle ticket

Wednesday 15 September 2021 21:43 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The third seat of the Inspiration4 mission belongs to Christopher Sembroski, who entered a raffle for the prize.

He didn’t actually win the 72,000-person raffle, but he was lucky enough to be friends with the person who did win it. That person gave him the prize in recognition of his lifelong interest in space.

His seat represents “Generosity”, with the raffle raising around $113 million for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital (where crewmate Hayley Arceneaux was treated and now works).

You can read all about him here.

© Provided by The Independent

Chris Sembroski profile: The man who won a trip to space with a raffle ticket

The cancer survivor SpaceX will take to orbit

Wednesday 15 September 2021 21:25 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Representing “Hope” for the mission is cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux.

Anyone who has watched Netflix’s Countown docu-series about the mission will be familiar with Arceneaux’s incredible story, who now works at the same children’s hospital that she was treated at for bone cancer at the age of 10.

She has been assigned the job of Medical Officer and will oversee the medical care and experiments during the Inspiration4 mission.

Arceneaux will break a number of records today: becoming the first person with a prosthesis in space, and the first paediatric cancer survivor in space. She would’ve also been the youngest person in space but was pipped to this record by an 18-year-old onboard Jeff Bezos’s recent jaunt to the edge of space (whose ticket was paid for by his rich dad).

You can read her story here.

© Provided by The Independent

Hayley Arceneaux profile: The cancer survivor and physician assistant on Inspiration4

Profiles of the SpaceX Inspiration4 crew

Wednesday 15 September 2021 21:12 , Anthony Cuthbertson

There are four people aboard the first all-civilian mission to orbit today, and we’ve got profiles of all of them.

With just under four hours to go until launch, there’s plenty of time to read them if you want to learn more about this pioneering group.

First up, there’s the Commander of the mission, Jared Isaacman.

The billionaire entrepreneur was the first seat confirmed, having committed $100 million to help make it happen.

As with the rest of the crew, Isaacman has given himself a virtue that he will embody. He is “Leadership”, with the others representing “Hope”, “Generosity” and “Prosperity”.

You can read more about him here.

© Provided by The Independent

Jared Isaacman profile: The internet entrepreneur who bought a flight to space

Inspiration4 crew emerge from SpaceX hangar

Wednesday 15 September 2021 21:00 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The crew for today’s mission has just emerged from a hangar to be greeted by a cheering crowd.

After a few waves they climb into a couple of Tesla Model X’s waiting for them, where family friends lean in through the windows and say their final in-person farewells.

They’ll be heading from Hangar X to the new SpaceX suit-up room just down the road.

© Provided by The Independent (SpaceX)

SpaceX Inspiration4 live stream launches

Wednesday 15 September 2021 20:49 , Anthony Cuthbertson

With just over four hours to go until the launch window opens for the Inspiration4 mission, SpaceX has launched its live stream – sort of.

For now it’s just the SpaceX logo floating in space with some pretty intense music, but there’s already more than 60,000 people tuned in to watch it.

You can watch the live stream at the top of this page (you may need to refresh the page to see it).

Weather ‘looking good’ for SpaceX Inspiration4 launch

Wednesday 15 September 2021 20:37 , Anthony Cuthbertson

SpaceX has shared an image of the Crew Dragon capsule atop the Falcon 9 rocket booster.

“All systems and weather are looking good,” the firm tweeted.

The live stream will be here in about 10 minutes, counting down the four hours until liftoff. We’ll have the webcast right here for you as soon as it’s live.

All systems and weather are looking good for today’s Falcon 9 launch of Dragon’s first all-civilian spaceflight. Webcast will go live ~4 hours before liftoff

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 15, 2021

Training day

Wednesday 15 September 2021 20:00 , Adam Smith

All the crew members, including commander Jared Isaacman, flight’s medical officer Hayley Arceneaux, mission pilot Sian Proctor, and mission flight specialist Chris Sembroski received commercial astronaut training including lessons in orbital mechanics, operating in a microgravity, stress testing, emergency preparedness training, and mission simulations

“For many months, for 100s of hours, at SpaceX locations, they have been doing all kinds of training: They have studied over 90 different kinds of training guides and manuals and lessons to learn to fly Crew Dragon, and what to do under emergency situations,” a spokesperson noted in a live stream Q&A with the Inspiration4 crew.

“Something else they have done to prepare are simulations, or what we call Sims, It’s where the crew actually gets suited up, or whatever their appropriate attire would be during the phase of the flight they are in, and get into a simulator of a Dragon capsule with their comms on and have everything going,” SpaceX said.

Read more about the Inspiration4 crew’s training here

SpaceX Inspiration4 to have ‘best bathroom view in human history’

Wednesday 15 September 2021 19:33 , Anthony Cuthbertson

At 575 km up, the crew of Inspiration4 is going to have an incredible view of Earth. Its higher altitude means it will beat the one from the International Space Station (ISS), offering a much broader look at our planet.

Of all the windows onboard Crew Dragon capsule, it will arguably be the one from the toilet that offers the best view. The toilet is on the ceiling, which is usually covered by a docking adaptor for the ISS.

Without the need to dock, the adaptor has reportedly been replaced with a glass dome window, which describes as “arguably the best bathroom view in human history”.

© Provided by The Independent (SpaceX) Wednesday 15 September 2021 19:31 , Adam Smith

Sian Proctor, an artist and poet, said she was thinking about the mission in a less scientific sense.

“From just an artistic standpoint, I’m excited to bring paint and do some art in space. I’m thinking about the fluid dynamics of watercolors and pulling paint from the palette and putting it on to the paper, but also pens and markers and really trying to show my students what that looks like and how that process is happening in space”, she told reporters, as quoted by Space.

Wednesday 15 September 2021 19:00 , Adam Smith

SpaceX will also monitor the crew’s genetics, microbiomes, and other variables – with the samples and data cryogenically frozen in a planned Biobank.

The crew’s organ systems will be scanned via an artificially-intelligent ultrasound device, currently being tested by astronauts on the International Space Station, that provides guidance for non-medical experts.

The aim is to determine how much ground support is necessary for the crew to acquire clinical-level images, as well as providing a timeline of biological changes pre- and post-flight.

“I’m so excited about the medical research that we’re going to be doing on this flight,” Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the flight’s medical officer, said during the briefing, as reported by Space.

“We’re really excited about the ultrasound. It’s really a unique opportunity. I know the docs at SpaceX are really excited; we are too.”

Inspiration4 will go more than 5-times higher than Bezos and Branson

Wednesday 15 September 2021 18:32 , Anthony Cuthbertson

When the Inspiration4 crew launches, they’ll be reaching an altitude of around 575km.

This is the highest any humans have gone into orbit since the servicing missions of the Hubble Telescope, and is nearly 200km higher than the current orbit of the International Space Station (ISS).

For context, the recent jaunts by Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos were a mere 80km and 106km respectively.

Inspiration4’s trip will also be much longer, lasting three days in total. By the time they return, they will have orbited the Earth nearly 50 times.

© Provided by The Independent (SpaceX)

‘First-of-its-kind’ research

Wednesday 15 September 2021 18:31 , Adam Smith

A huge amount of health data will be collected on this mission.

ECG (electrocardiograph) activity, movement, sleep, heart rate and rhythm, blood oxygen saturation, cabin noise and light intensity – which will be used to help assess changes in behavioural and cognitive performance over time – will all be gathered.

Drops of blood will also be collected to monitor the function of the immune system, and balance and perception tests will be taken before and immediately after the flight to explore the humans’ response to change in gravity.

The future of space travel?

Wednesday 15 September 2021 18:00 , Adam Smith

While commercial space ventures opens up new possibilities for the industry, the process SpaceX is taking with Inspiration4 is not one that is guaranteed to be followed by others.

“We are all following the Inspiration4 mission as closely as any fan of the growth of human space exploration,” Axiom Space spokesperson Beau Holder told SpaceNews. “It brings new awareness and interest to commercial spaceflight and that is a positive thing for not only our own missions, but the efforts of everyone across the industry.”

Holder added that future missions have already been prepared, so will not benefit from any insight from SpaceX’s voyage; “as Axiom’s private missions are planned to visit ISS and with profiles more closely approximating previous government ones, a closer analogue for lessons learned would be the Nasa crew missions.”

Automatic for the people

Wednesday 15 September 2021 17:30 , Adam Smith

While on the craft, the astronauts will not have to directly pilot the spacecraft. The journey will predominantly be handled autonomously under the guidance of SpaceX on Earth.

This does present a greater risk, should an autonomous system fail, but also reveals the confidence SpaceX has in the abilities of its technology.

Before the mission, the crew will have spent months in classrooms and simulators to learn the systems aboard the spacecraft, training for emergencies, and experiencing g-force.

“There’s north of 60 procedures that range from normal contingency to emergency,” Isaacman told Time. “In a multi-day mission there is a lot of time for a lot of things to go wrong.”

Have non-astronauts gone into space before

Wednesday 15 September 2021 17:00 , Adam Smith

Usually, it takes immense wealth to reach space. Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos recently achieved short suborbital flights, but others have gone before them.

From 2001 to 2009, seven people have paid upwards of $30 million per seat to go to the International Space Station on Russian Soyuz rockets, but many of these have been overseen by government agencies like Nasa.

“This is the first privately-operated orbital spaceflight to have all private citizens as its passengers,” spaceflight expert Jonathan McDowell from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told MIT Technology Review. “Compared to the suborbital [flights], it’s so much more ambitious.”

“The first black female pilot of a spacecraft”

Wednesday 15 September 2021 16:30 , Adam Smith

Dr Sian Proctor, one of the astronauts on the flight, has said that “it’s really special for me to hold” the title of pilot for the mission, “because I’m going to be the first black female pilot of a spacecraft.”

Proctor: “There have been three black female astronauts that have made it the space, and knowing that I’m going to be the fourth means that I have this opportunity to not only accomplish my dream, but also inspire the next generation of women of color.”

— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) September 14, 2021

Wednesday 15 September 2021 16:26 , Adam Smith

433.9 megapixel panorama of @spacex b1062.3 and crew dragon resilience ~8 hours before liftoff of the #inspiration4 mission🚀exciting day!

(+ a sneak peek at the level of detail)


— Trevor Mahlmann (@TrevorMahlmann) September 15, 2021

“It’s launch day”

Wednesday 15 September 2021 16:01 , Adam Smith

SpaceX has just shared a photo of Jared Isaacman looking at the rocket

It’s launch day.

— Inspiration4 (@inspiration4x) September 15, 2021

The Falcon 9 rocket

Wednesday 15 September 2021 15:58 , Adam Smith

SpaceX will be using the Falcon 9 rocket to put the astronauts into orbit.

Falcon 9 is the first orbital-class rocket capable of reflight, and has since inspired other private space companies like Blue Origin to create their own reusable rockets.

With a Dragon spacecraft on top, the rocket measures 48.1 meters (157 feet) tall and is capable of producing one million pounds of thrust in a vacuum.

Inspiration4 mission about to launch

Wednesday 15 September 2021 14:22 , Andrew Griffin

Everything is looking good for going to orbit so far, says SpaceX. Here’s the latest on where everything stands with just hours left until (planned) liftoff.

How do you prepare for a mission like Inspiration4?

Wednesday 15 September 2021 13:27 , Andrew Griffin

Inspiration4 is a mission like no other: the first full, private, space tourism mission into orbit. But SpaceX hopes that it is just the beginning of more like it.

To ensure that’s the case – that the crew are safe and enjoy themselves – they had have to undergo pioneering training to match their pioneering mission. But what does that look like?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Will you be able to see SpaceX Crew Dragon as it circles the Earth?

Wednesday 15 September 2021 13:17 , Andrew Griffin

You’ll be able to see the launch tonight, through SpaceX’s live stream. But will you be able to really see it, with your own eyes? Probably, although not very well.

That’s according to experts, who give you all the information you need to watch it in this article here.

Wednesday 15 September 2021 12:20 , Andrew Griffin

As the sun rises on the day that will see them head to space, here’s the latest on Reuters on what’s going on with the crew:

The four would-be citizen astronauts poised to ride a SpaceX rocket ship around the globe as the first all-civilian crew launched into orbit said on Tuesday they were eager for liftoff on the eve of their flight, feeling only “the good kind” of jitters.

“I was just worried that this moment would never come in my life. Let’s get going, let’s do it,” said Sian Proctor, 51, a geoscience professor, artist and lifelong space enthusiast who was a 2009 finalist in NASA’s astronaut candidate program before she was cut.

Proctor also disclosed she and her flightmates received a telephone call from one of her personal heroes, former first lady Michelle Obama, wishing them well, an honor she said “would stay with me the rest of my life.”

The “Inspiration4” quartet are due for liftoff as early as 8 p.m. on Wednesday (0000 GMT) from launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for an orbital flight expected to last about three days before splashdown.

Proctor and her crewmates – billionaire e-commerce executive and jet pilot Jared Isaacman, 38, physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux, 29, and aerospace data engineer Chris Sembroski, 42 – took reporters’ questions at a pre-launch briefing inside a SpaceX hangar a little more than 24 hours before launch time.

Behind them, visible in the distance through the hangar’s open doors, stood the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule designed to carry them to a targeted orbital altitude of 360 miles (575 km) over the Earth – higher than the International Space Station.

That is far beyond the inaugural astro-tourism flights made this summer by SpaceX rivals Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, which carried their respective billionaire founders – Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos – along for the ride.

Those two suborbital trips, while high enough for their crews to experience a few moments of microgravity, were over in a matter of minutes.

The high-orbital flight planned for Inspiration4 carries greater risks, including more exposure to radiation in space. But the crew members professed the utmost confidence in SpaceX, the private California-based rocket company founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Isaacman, founder and chief executive of electronic financial services company Shift4 Payments Inc, is the mission’s originator and benefactor, having paid Musk an undisclosed but presumably enormous sum to fly all four crew members into orbit.

Musk joined in on a pre-flight “check-in” call on Tuesday, “and did give us his assurances that the entire leadership is solely focused on this mission,” Isaacman told reporters when asked about pre-launch nerves. “No jitters, just excited to get going.”

Arceneaux, a childhood bone cancer survivor who now works with young lymphoma and leukemia patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Center in Memphis, Tennessee, which the Inspiration4 mission was designed largely to promote, said she was “just so excited.”

“Any jitters are the good kind,” she added. “I’m just waiting for tomorrow to get here.”

Joining Tuesday’s event was at least one retired NASA astronaut, Catherine “Cady” Coleman, 60, a veteran of two space shuttle missions who spoke up to wish the Inspiration4 crew well, telling them: “We want to welcome you to the family.”

Isaacman posts picture of jets surrounding launchpad

Tuesday 14 September 2021 16:50 , Andrew Griffin

Jared Isaacman, the first person to join the Inspiration4 trip and its funder, has posted a picture of his friends in the Black Diamond Jet Team, a civilian aerobatics crew, flying around the rocket as it sits on the launchpad.

Going to be hard to top this photo flight with the old BDJT gang & my @inspiration4x friends around LC-39A w/Falcon9 & Dragon ready for flight! We know how lucky we are & will use every bit of our time on-orbit to give back: @StJude

📸 work by @johnkrausphotos

— Jared Isaacman (@rookisaacman) September 14, 2021

Crew pictured in spacesuits

Tuesday 14 September 2021 15:30 , Andrew Griffin

Here’s the Inspiration4 crew, all kitted out in their spacesuits:

Dragon’s first all-civilian crew

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 14, 2021

Launch expected Wednesday night/Thursday morning

Monday 13 September 2021 12:01 , Andrew Griffin

SpaceX has announced that it is targeting a window on Wednesday night/Thursday morning for the launch:

Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete – targeting Wednesday, September 15 for launch of Dragon’s first all-civilian human spaceflight. The 5-hour launch window opens at 8:02 p.m. EDT

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 13, 2021

Launch window delayed by 24 hours

Monday 13 September 2021 11:13 , Andrew Griffin

SpaceX has delayed the opening of the launch window of the Inspiration4 mission from Wednesday to Thursday.

It’s important to note that this is only the opening of the window – it can still happen any time after Thursday, rather than necessarily on Thursday.

We’re expecting more details with more precise timings soon.

“After arrival, the teams from SpaceX and Inspiration4 also met yesterday evening for a follow-on flight readiness review and an initial weather briefing,” the statement read. “After evaluating the readiness of the Falcon 9 rocket, Dragon spacecraft, associated ground systems, recovery assets and other key elements of SpaceX’s human spaceflight system, and the current weather forecasts of conditions at the launch site, along the ascent corridor, and at the landing locations off the coasts of Florida for a safe return of the crew a few days later, teams agreed to now target no earlier than 8:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, September 15 for liftoff.

“This will allow additional time for final preparations, vehicle checkouts and data reviews. SpaceX and Inspiration4 will narrow down the launch window to five hours approximately three days before liftoff.”

Hello and welcome…

Monday 13 September 2021 09:56 , Andrew Griffin

… to The Independent’s live coverage of the Inspiration4 mission.

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