The first four civilians will head to space on Wednesday evening – the first mission in history that will not have professional astronauts on board.
From shortly after 8 p.m., look southeast, initially low on the horizon. The rocket will move from your right to your left as it climbs the hill towards orbit.
This launch shouldn’t be as big as the pre-dawn launches. This is because we will be looking at the light of the setting sun reflected from the plume instead of shining through the rising sun.
Several WRAL viewers uploaded photos of the launch from their homes. The one below was taken by Allison Newell in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
The mission, dubbed Inspiration4, is just the latest milestone flight in what has been a busy year for private spaceflight companies, following the sprees into suborbital space of billionaire entrepreneurs Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos during the ‘summer.
Billionaire Jared Isaacman is expected to lead the all-civilian historic mission. Isaacman, the 38-year-old founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, a payment processing company based in Pennsylvania, paid an unspecified amount for the three-day expedition in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule.
Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a bone cancer survivor who now works as a medical assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will join Isaacman on the trip. Arceneaux, who will act as the crew’s chief medical officer, will become the youngest American to fly in space.
Chris Sembroski, a 42-year-old US Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer, and Sian Proctor, 51, a geoscientist and licensed pilot, will complete the crew.
Doctors at Duke University Medical Center helped the historic team prepare for space emergencies.
“In space, if everyone’s doing well outside of microgravity, there’s really nothing to work on in terms of atmosphere,” Dr. Richard Moon said with Duke.
He and his team trained the crew on how to react to low oxygen levels and operate at high altitudes.
The Inspiration4 crew were taken to approximately 2,5000 feet in the air to train in the Duke Health hyperbaric chamber. The crew were given tasks, such as writing, some calculations and a simple puzzle.
“Within minutes, they all realized that when the oxygen level goes down, they aren’t able to do things the way they should,” Moon said. “It’s interesting that when this happens, people often ignore that there is something wrong. “
Moon says if an emergency were to occur, this oxygen training helps them be able to recognize it.
The Inspiration4 mission will be similar to SpaceX’s routine flights to the International Space Station, except this time the capsule will not dock with the orbiting laboratory. Instead, the spacecraft will circle the planet 15 times a day at an altitude of nearly 360 miles, higher than the current orbits of the space station and the Hubble Space Telescope, according to SpaceX.
The Crew Dragon capsule will spend three days circling the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere and splashing into the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Florida, according to SpaceX.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said that while early space tourism flights may be out of reach for everyone except the very wealthy, these pioneering missions will lay the groundwork for more regular and affordable travel in the world. space in the future.