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News, September 2020
SpaceX's Private Inspiration4 Splashes Down Safely in Atlantic Ocean, After Completing First All-Civilian Mission
September 20, 2021
SpaceX’s private Inspiration4 mission splashes down safely in Atlantic Ocean
Michael Sheetz, CNBC, September 18, 202110:46 PM EDT
SpaceX returned its Crew Dragon spacecraft from orbit on Saturday, with the capsule carrying the four members of the Inspiration4 mission back to Earth after three days in space. Crew Dragon capsule Resilience splashed down off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida in the Atlantic Ocean. The historic private mission — which includes commander Jared Isaacman, pilot Sian Proctor, medical officer Hayley Arceneaux and mission specialist Chris Sembroski — orbited the Earth at an altitude as high as 590 kilometers.
SpaceX safely returned its Crew Dragon spacecraft from orbit on Saturday, with the capsule carrying the four members of the Inspiration4 mission back to Earth after three days in space.
Crew Dragon capsule Resilience splashed down off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida in the Atlantic Ocean.
“Thanks so much SpaceX, that was a heck of a ride for us and we’re just getting started!” Inspiration4 commander Jared Isaacman said from the capsule.
In less than an hour after splashdown, SpaceX loaded the capsule onto its recovery ship and the crew exited, each giving waves and thumbs up after disembarking. The crew will then be helicoptered from the ship to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, a short flight away from the splashdown site.
Inspiration4 mission director Scott Poteet joined a post-splashdown call with reporters, speaking from the SpaceX recovery ship.
“The group is in great spirits, they’re having a blast and everyone’s looking forward to reuniting with their families,” Poteet said.
Elon Musk tweeted his congratulations to the crew shortly after splashdown.
The historic private mission — which includes Isaacman, pilot Sian Proctor, medical officer Hayley Arceneaux and mission specialist Chris Sembroski — orbited the Earth at an altitude as high as 590 kilometers, which is above the International Space Station and the furthest humans have traveled above the surface in years. A free-flying spaceflight, the capsule did not dock with the ISS but instead circled the Earth independently at a rate of 15 orbits per day.
SpaceX human spaceflight programs senior director Benji Reed told reporters after splashdown that the company’s sales and marketing teams saw an “increased” number of inquiries from people interested in purchasing a private spaceflight. He said that SpaceX can fly “five or six” private missions per year.
“If demand is there, then we’ll want to look at what we can do to continue to grow that” capability, Reed said.
Reed also noted that there were “a couple of issues” that SpaceX resolved during the spaceflight, including with the waste management system, or toilet, onboard the spacecraft. Inspiration4 mission director Todd Ericson added that the toilet had “an issue with a fan that’s part of the system” but a workaround was implemented without significant trouble.
Inspiration4 shared photos from the crew’s time in orbit, giving a look at the expansive views from the spacecraft’s “cupola” window.
This is the third time SpaceX has returned astronauts from space, and the second time for this capsule – which previously flew the Crew-1 mission for NASA on a trip that returned in May.
Both prior SpaceX astronaut missions splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, making this the first that returned in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Inspiration4 crew inside Crew Dragon capsule Resilience after the hatch was reopened. From left: Mission specialist Chris Sembroski, pilot Sian Proctor, commander Jared Isaacman, and medical officer Hayley Arceneaux. SpaceX
The mission also comes with multiple other milestones for Musk’s company, including: The first private SpaceX spaceflight, the first entirely nonprofessional crew to become astronauts, the first Black female spacecraft pilot, the youngest American astronaut to date, and the first person to fly in space with a prosthesis.
Inspiration4 was paid for by Isaacman for an undisclosed amount, with the main goal of the spaceflight to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Isaacman, a billionaire entrepreneur, donated $100 million personally, with the mission having raised another $53.8 million in donations as of Saturday evening, according to the mission’s website.
Elon Musk mocks President Biden after SpaceX completes first all-civilian mission
CNBC, September 20, 2021|
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk mocked President Joe Biden on Sunday for neglecting to praise his aerospace company's historic, all-civilian mission to orbit. Musk recently said he would prefer to stay out of politics. But Sunday’s quip — which alluded to a Trump taunt about Biden — belied his frustration with the White House.
After SpaceX completed a historic, private spaceflight on Saturday, CEO Elon Musk took a pot shot at President Joe Biden who had yet to remark on the company's and the civilian flight crew's accomplishments.
One of Musk's 60 million followers on the social networking platform Twitter asked him, "The President of the United States has refused to even acknowledge the 4 newest American astronauts who helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for St. Jude. What's your theory on why that is?"
Musk replied, "He's still sleeping."
As CNBC previously reported, SpaceX safely returned its Crew Dragon spacecraft from orbit yesterday. The capsule carried the four members of the Inspiration4 mission back to Earth after three days in space.
One major goal of the Inspiration4 mission was to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. It had raised $160.2 million by Saturday. Celebrating after Inspiration4 splashed down, Musk pledged to contribute $50 million personally — pushing the campaign's total raised to $210 million.
The White House and SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Top NASA officials have congratulated Musk and SpaceX on the Inspiration4 mission. SpaceX competitors acknowledged it too, with accolades from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin and Musk's peer and rival Jeff Bezos shared on social media.
This marked the first private SpaceX spaceflight, with a non-professional crew. Additionally, the mission involved the first Black woman to serve as a spacecraft pilot, the youngest American to become an astronaut to date, and the first person to fly in space with a prosthesis.
Although Musk recently stated that he "would prefer to stay out of politics," his quip on Sunday indicated a willingness to needle the Democratic president and repeat a right-wing taunt about Biden.
During his 2020 campaign, former President Donald Trump frequently insulted then-candidate Biden by calling him "Sleepy Joe."
More recently, Trump sent Biden sarcastic well-wishes ahead of a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June. He said in an e-mailed statement at the time, "Good luck to Biden in dealing with President Putin— don't fall asleep during the meeting, and please give him my warmest regards!"
SpaceX generally enjoys a good relationship with the federal government. For example, it won a $2.89 billion contract to build NASA's next crewed lunar lander, beating out Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Leidos subsidiary Dynetics, and SpaceX has flown 10 astronauts to the ISS for NASA to date.
However, SpaceX is also under investigation by the Department of Justice after accusations that it discriminated against job applicants based on citizenship status — a probe that began during the Trump administration.
In addition to his responsibilities at SpaceX, Musk is concurrently the CEO of electric vehicle makers Tesla. (Tesla is also a supplier to SpaceX.)
In that capacity, he recently bemoaned a Biden administration proposal that would allocate an extra $4,500 in incentives to buyers of certain, new electric light-duty passenger vehicles. One stipulation of the proposal is that electric vehicles should be union-made, domestically.
While the company operates a battery factory in Nevada, and a vehicle assembly plant in California already, with another under construction outside of Austin, Texas, Tesla is the only major U.S. automaker whose production is not unionized here.
Musk said, on Twitter on September 12, of the proposal: "This is written by Ford/UAW lobbyists, as they make their electric car in Mexico. Not obvious how this serves American taxpayers."
In Cars.com's annual American Made Index for 2021, Tesla's popular Model 3 electric sedan topped the rankings, and its crossover Model Y landed in third place.
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