Shemaine Bushnell Kyriakides
One small step for man, one giant leap for commercial space travel.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida this morning shortly after 3 am Cyprus time. The mission, dubbed Inspiration4, is the first ever launch to carry a crew made up of only civilians or ordinary citizens.
I'm really quite overcome with emotion on this day, so it's kind of hard to talk, frankly.
The crew was led by 38-year old billionaire Jared Isaacman, an experienced pilot, who purchased all four seats on the flight for an estimated $220 million.
The remaining crew members lucky enough to have been chosen were 29-year old Hayley Arceneaux, a cancer survivor and the youngest American ever to go into space, 51-year old Dr. Sian Proctor, and 41-year old Chris Sembroski, an Iraq War veteran and engineer with Lockheed Martin.
"I'm really quite overcome with emotion on this day, so it's kind of hard to talk, frankly," Musk said at a post launch press conference. "It's been 18 years working towards this goal, so it's hard to believe that it's happened," he went on.
The mission’s plan is to orbit the earth for 3 days while conducting experiments. The crew also announced they will be auctioning off items from space, with the proceeds going to St. Jude Hospital, a children’s hospital that treats cancer and serious diseases in children.
SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk in 2002 with the goal of reducing transport costs to enable the colonization of Mars and ultimately to make space travel accessible to ordinary citizens.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is not the only company vying for a share in the space tourism market.
Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic) both tested their versions of civilian flights into space back in July 2021. And both were part of the crew that made history when they were blasted into space and returned safely to earth within a few minutes after the launch.
It is the dawn of a new era in commercial space travel.