After the 3-day journey, the crew of SpaceX "Inspiration 4" returned to Earth
According to news on September 19, local time, on Saturday evening local time, the crewed dragon spacecraft of the US space exploration technology company SpaceX carried four members of the "Inspiration 4" mission across the Earth’s atmosphere and successfully splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast of Florida. This means The company's first all-civilian space mission was successfully concluded.
Billionaire Jared Isaacman, geologist Sian Proctor, physician assistant Haley Arceneaux and data engineer Chris The four mission members, Chris Sembroski, became the first crew members to enter Earth orbit without professional astronaut training.
On Wednesday, members of the "Inspiration 4" mission aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center. On Saturday, the Crew Dragon spacecraft splashed and landed on the Atlantic Ocean about 48 kilometers east of NASA's Kennedy Space Center. At around 7:02 pm Eastern Time on Saturday, the Crew Dragon spacecraft opened two sets of parachutes one after another during the landing. The first set of parachutes had two parachutes and the second set had four parachutes, all to slow down the descent of the spacecraft. In the end, the spacecraft successfully splashed down at around 7:06 pm Eastern Time. SpaceX’s mission recovery team rushed to the spacecraft in a small boat and brought the four members back.
"Thank you very much SpaceX, this is an arduous journey for us, we have just begun," Isaacman told SpaceX Mission Control Center after the spacecraft landed.
From the punctual launch at 8:02 pm EST on Wednesday to the punctual splash on Saturday, the "Inspiration 4" mission lasted 71 hours. The space trip also plans to raise US$200 million for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, a non-profit organization that studies childhood cancer. The hospital said that since the launch of the spacecraft on Wednesday, it has raised about 20 million U.S. dollars, which brings the total funding to about 153 million U.S. dollars.
At around 6:11 pm Eastern Time on Saturday, the four mission members returned to their seats to fasten their seat belts, and the Crew Dragon spacecraft began the fully automated return process. The spacecraft dropped the trunk and activated a set of thrusters to de-orbit and descend toward the earth’s atmosphere. The real-time video inside the cabin showed that Sembroski was watching a movie with an iPad strapped to his knees.
The journey of the four back to earth went smoothly. Due to the plasma layer formed when entering the atmosphere, the spacecraft and the SpaceX mission control center were interrupted for about 7 minutes. When the spacecraft returned to the atmosphere, the external temperature was as high as 1926 degrees Celsius, but the four-person spacesuits and cabin air conditioners kept the temperature normal. In the end, the manned dragon spacecraft passed over northeastern South America and quickly descended to Cape Canaveral on the east coast of Florida.
The two parachutes were deployed as planned, reducing the speed of the spacecraft from 560 kilometers per hour to 160 kilometers per hour. Less than a minute later, the spacecraft threw a parachute at an altitude of nearly 550 meters and opened the other four main parachutes, causing the spacecraft to slow down to approximately 24 kilometers per hour when it splashed down.
About half an hour later, SpaceX hoisted the Crew Dragon spacecraft from the surface to the recovery vessel named "Go Searcher". Afterwards, the mission recovery team members opened the hatch and received the four mission members one by one on the platform inside the ship. Arsenio came out first, Procotte followed closely, followed by Sembroski and Isaacman. Isaacman was more like a toddler when he got out of the cabin, his legs trembling a little as he adjusted to the gravity of the earth. They will all be examined by medical staff and then return to the shore by helicopter.
During the three-day space flight, four mission members had video chats with patients at St. Jude’s Hospital, remotely ringed the bell for the New York Stock Exchange, and kept in touch with friends and family. Isaacman placed a $4,000 bet in Las Vegas, betting that the Eagles will become the Super Bowl champion, and chatting with Tom Cruise remotely. On Friday, the four people briefly broadcast a talent show: Sembroski played ukulele, Procott showed her paintings with a box of metal pens, and Arsenio turned a somersault in microgravity. "Hayley is the champion of somersaults," Procott said, when Arceno curled up into a ball and rolled in place.
The four also collected data for scientific research on how microgravity affects the human body. In Friday’s video, Arsenio showed off equipment used to measure intracranial pressure.
The manned dragon spacecraft carrying out the "Inspiration 4" mission, named "Resilience", sent four NASA astronauts to the International Space Station and returned smoothly nearly a year ago. Except for the installation of a glass dome at the location of the spacecraft's opposite interface, the other structure of the spacecraft has not changed. The newly installed glass dome can easily accommodate the upper bodies of three passengers, allowing the passengers in the cabin to view space and the earth in orbit.
Except for a minor problem with the spacecraft toilet during the mission, everything went smoothly. "Inspiration 4" mission director Todd Eriksson (Todd ericsson) said that the spacecraft waste disposal system was mainly related to "the fan problem in the system", but it was quickly resolved, but it did not provide more information about the incident. detail. SpaceX astronaut mission management director Benji Reed (Benji Reed) said that another issue during the mission involved a temperature sensor related to a thruster of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, but the spacecraft's backup sensor was activated and working normally. In general, this is a "very smooth task from start to finish".
In addition to accomplishing the set goals, the "Inspiration 4" mission also showed that space travel is no longer the patent of professional astronauts. SpaceX's other manned space missions will follow, including the company's first mission to send civilians to the International Space Station next year. Axiom Space, the company that arranged the space travel, has signed three agreements with customers to take the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station.
"Welcome to the second space age," Eriksson said.