Space travel has just taken a new historic step.
Four American tourists began an incredible journey through zero gravity on a SpaceX spacecraft on Wednesday, where they are set to spend three days orbiting Earth without a professional astronaut on board.
They must travel farther than the International Space Station (ISS), at a target orbit of 575 km.
Each day they will circumnavigate the globe about 15 times.
The Falcon 9 rocket took off on time, 8:02 pm (2:02 am in France Thursday) from the legendary launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with a roar and a fireball illuminating the night.
A few minutes later, the first and then the second stage of the rocket separated, leaving the Dragon capsule and its passengers alone in the cosmos.
What an adventure for the four members of @SpaceX's @ inspiration4x mission who embarked on their three-day space cruise.
Launch summary in 80 seconds # Inspiration4 pic.twitter.com/suDFpkNdut
- Philippe Berry (@ptiberry) September 16, 2021
After receiving a visit from Elon Musk, boss of SpaceX and Tesla, the four passengers boarded around 4 p.m. in white Tesla, under the sun and the applause of a small crowd, to reach the building where they then went. put on their custom-made jumpsuit.
Then they returned to the launch pad, got on board, and after a series of systems checks, the capsule hatch was closed.
Three places offered by a 38-year-old billionaire
The mission was chartered by Jared Isaacman, 38, boss of a financial services company and seasoned pilot.
The price he paid has not been disclosed, but runs into tens of millions of dollars.
He also offered three more seats to strangers.
Hayley Arceneaux, a pediatric cancer survivor, is a 29-year-old medical assistant.
She is the youngest American to ever enter space, and the first person with a prosthesis.
Chris Sembroski, 42, is a former US Air Force employee who now works in the aviation industry.
Finally, Sian Proctor, a 51-year-old professor of Earth sciences, had almost been selected in 2009 to become an astronaut for NASA.
She is only the fourth African American woman to go to space.
Musk's wish for a multiplanetary humanity
Called Inspiration4, the mission is supposed to embody a step towards the democratization of space, by proving that the cosmos is not reserved only for astronaut crews handpicked and trained over the years.
For SpaceX, this is nothing less than a first step towards a multiplanetary humanity, Elon Musk's ultimate vision.
"The take-off of Inspiration4 reminds us of what can be accomplished when we partner with private industry," NASA boss Bill Nelson tweeted on Wednesday.
SpaceX has already sent 10 astronauts to the ISS on behalf of NASA during three previous manned missions, and is planning other space tourism flights thereafter.
The next one in January 2022, with three businessmen on board.
Learn all about SpaceX's Inspiration4 mission, which will send four novices into space
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