October 26, 2021

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After Spending Three Days Orbiting The Earth, Isnpiration4 Crew Have Returned Home


After orbiting the Earth over 50 times across three days, the crew of the landmark Inspiration4 mission safely returned to Earth on Saturday, Sep 18, 2021.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule entered the atmosphere at speeds exceeding Mach 22, or just over 27000 kilometers per hour. At those speeds, the air in the atmosphere acts more like a liquid, slowing down the capsule.

The friction between the re-entry module and the air around it could heat the capsule surface to over 1900 °C. Thankfully, the heat shield on the capsule takes the brunt of the heat, protecting the crew inside a specially designed heat-resistant capsule.

After the capsule slowed down to sub-sonic speeds and reached altitudes below 5000 feet, two parachutes were deployed to further slow down the capsule, and prepare it for a safe splashdown in the ocean.

At about 7 p.m. local time, the capsule carrying the three amateur astronauts splashed down off the Florida coast.

Dubbed as the first tourist mission to space, Inspiration4 had many objectives other than just achieving low-earth-orbit.

 

Crew of the Inspiration4 mission. Credit: Inspiration4/SpaceX

One of the main goals of the trip was to raise around $200 million in funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, United States. The hospital develops cures for childhood cancers and gives away treatment for children for free.

Jare Isaacman, the billionaire who funded Inspiration4 has pledged to donate the first $100 million himself. While Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has announced that he will contribute $50 million for the cause.

Despite the high-profile launches by Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos and Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson earlier this year, the duo only managed to reach the edge of the atmosphere and only for a few minutes.

Inspiration4 was the first to take private citizens into low-earth-orbit. but we may not have to wait much longer to see many more. Russian space agency Roscosmos announced earlier this month that it will launch at least two missions by the end of the year, sending private citizens to the International Space Station.

Cover Photo: Inspiration4/SpaceX





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