17 Sep 2021, 10:28

'Happy' SpaceX tourist crew spend first day whizzing around Earth

  WASHINGTON, Sept 17, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - SpaceX's all-civilian Inspiration4
crew spent their first day in orbit conducting scientific research and
talking to children at a pediatric cancer hospital, after blasting off on
their pioneering mission from Cape Canaveral the night before.

  St Jude tweeted its patients got to speak with the four American space
tourists, "asking the questions we all want to know like 'are there cows on
the Moon?'"

  Billionaire Jared Isaacman, who chartered the flight, is trying to raise
$200 million for the research facility.

  Inspiration4 is the first orbital spaceflight with only private citizens

  Earlier, Elon Musk's company tweeted that the four were "healthy" and
"happy," had completed their first round of scientific research, and enjoyed
a couple of meals.

  Musk himself tweeted that he had personally spoken with the crew and "all
is well."

  By now, they should have also been able to gaze out from the Dragon ship's
cupola -- the largest space window ever built, which has been fitted onto the
vessel for the first time in place of its usual docking mechanism.

  - Most humans in space -

  The Inspiration4 mission also brings the total number of humans currently
in space to 14 -- a new record. In 2009, there were 13 people on the
International Space Station (ISS).

  There are currently seven people aboard the ISS, including two Russian
cosmonauts, and three Chinese astronauts on spaceship Shenzhou-12, which is
bound home after its crew spent 90 days at the Tiangong space station.

  Isaacman, physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux, geoscientist Sian Proctor
and aerospace data engineer Chris Sembroski are whizzing around the planet at
an altitude that at times reaches 590 kilometers (367 miles).

  That is deeper in space than the ISS, which orbits at 420 kilometers (260
miles), and the furthest any humans have ventured since a 2009 maintenance
mission for the Hubble telescope.

  Their ship is moving at about 17,500 mph (28,000 kph) and each day they
will experience about 15 sunrises and sunsets.

  Their high speed means they are experiencing time slightly slower than
people on the surface, because of a phenomenon called "relative velocity time

  Apart from fundraising for charity, the mission aims to study the
biological effects of deep space on the astronauts' bodies.

  "Missions like Inspiration4 help advance spaceflight to enable ultimately
anyone to go to orbit & beyond," added Musk in a tweet.

  The space adventure bookends a summer marked by the battle of the
billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos to reach the final frontier.

  But these flights only offered a few minutes of weightlessness -- rather
than the three full days of orbit the Inspiration4 crew will experience,
before splashing down off the coast of Florida on Saturday.


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