September 18th 7:06 PM Est off the Atlantic coast
Just three days after launching to orbit the all civilian crew to fly to space has returned. With barely enough time for Netflix to break down all their gear at the Kennedy Space Center Jared Isaacman and his three crew are already back on Earth. Once again onlookers packed the coast line in hopes of catching the Crew Dragon capsule splash down off the coast of Cape Canaveral. This has been the fourth crewed mission to launch to orbit on a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, but the third to return as the Crew-2 team is still aboard the International Space Station orbiting overhead. This also marks the first Crew Dragon splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX has several different locations which can be utilized for splashdowns in case sea states and weather conditions are no ideal in their primary location. That primary location is just off the coast of Cape Canaveral where the trip to return the capsule is the quickest, yet those those two previous missions where astronauts returned both splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico as conditions were deemed unsafe on the Atlantic.
Over the last three days the crew of Inspiration 4, billionaire Jared Isaacman, physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux, data engineer Christopher sembroski and community college professor Dr. Sian Proctor orbited the Earth every ninety minutes as they ventured farther out to space the the ISS. While conducting various science experiments and enjoying the view from a specially installed glass cupola the crew also took breaks from their work to play with various things they brought up with them. For example Chris played his ukulele for the nation while on a video call back home. Researchers also gathered physiological information about the crew to assess changes in behavior, and cognition, including their heart rates, blood pressure, and blood oxygen saturation levels along with how the crew slept.
While billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos have also recently sent crews to orbit their two trips combined equaled just about ten minutes of total time in space. With Inspiration 4 spending three days in orbit it would take both Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Bezos’ Blue Origin many years to earn that level of flight time. For Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and CEO it was just another feather in his cap as he’s already ferried three astronaut crews to the ISS for NASA and signed a deal in June which will bring the first “space tourists” to that same space station next year for a ticket price of 55 million per seat.