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SpaceX launch - live stream: Inspiration4 crew completes first round of scientific research in space

Space X launches first all-civilian crew into orbit

After reaching an orbit of 585km aboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule, the all-civilian Inspiration4 mission crew has completed its first round of scientific research in space.

The team is currently flying in an orbit 575km above the Earth, after circling around the planet several times at a height of 585km yesterday.

“Dragon continues to remain in its intended target orbit, with altitudes as high as 590km above the Earth’s surface,” SpaceX tweeted.

SpaceX noted that the crew is healthy and happy, adding that they “completed their first round of scientific research, and enjoyed a couple of meals.”

They will fall back down to Earth after spending 3 days in space, landing in the ocean for a splashdown.

If the mission is a success, it will mark a major step forward for space tourism, and for Elon Musk and SpaceX’s plans to make it accessible to anyone with the money to fund a rocket and spacecraft to carry them to orbit.

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The Inspiration4 crew interacted from space with patients from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Mission’s “chief medical officer” Hayley Arceneaux is a bone cancer survivor turned St. Jude physicians’ assistant.

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The crew have also brought some personal items inside the craft.

Hayley Arceneaux brought a photograph of herself aged 10, when she was enduring bone cancer treatment, while Jared Isaacman is taking custom dragon pendants made for the trip. Christopher Sembroski is taking two pints that belonged to his mother-in-law’s great-grandmother, and Sian Proctor is taking a commemorative coin from Guam, given to her by her parents.

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As well as the Kings of Leon’s song, other items on board Inspiration4 include:

  • Inspiration4 mission jackets featuring unique artwork by St. Jude patients, and original artwork by the Inspiration4 crew members, that were created by Space for Art Foundation co-founders artist Ian Cion and retired Nasa astronaut Nicole Stott, and handmade by spacesuit replica artist Ryan Nagata.
  • 66 pounds of hops that, upon return, will be used to brew an out-of-this world beer by the brewers of Samuel Adams.
  • A Fisher Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Space Pen & Coin Set containing a piece of material from Apollo 11.
  • A ukulele from Martin Guitar that crew member Chris Sembroski will play in space.
  • 50 art NFTs from 50 different artists will be auctioned on Origin Protocol’s NFT platform in collaboration with Subtractive, including an NFT that crew member Dr. Sian Proctor will bring into space that was also a piece of physical art that previously travelled to the Mariana Trench, making it the first piece of art that went to the furthest ocean depths and then into orbit.
  • A handful of plastic and plush STEM toys based on the five characters from the popular animated STEM series, “Space Racers.”
  • A mini-astronaut plush that will be delivered to the winning bidder with an original collar designed by renowned artist Romero Britto.
  • The recent Time magazine with cover feature of the four crew members that they will autograph after the SpaceX Dragon capsule returns.
  • IWC Schaffhausen has designed and donated four unique, space-themed Pilot’s Watch Chronographs representing the mission’s values of Leadership, Hope, Generosity and Prosperity.
  • Customized Montblanc StarWalker Writing Instruments and stationeries for the crew to write about their journey in space.
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The Kings of Leon’s NFT

Also on the Inspiration4 mission is a non-fungible token by the band Kings of Leon, a never-before-released performance of the song Time in Disguise from the band’s newest album.

“We’re honored to participate in this historic journey in an effort to raise money for St. Jude, and we’re sending all our best to the crew of Inspiration4”, the band said in a statement.

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SpaceX breached a new Dragon altitude record at a circular orbit of 585 kilometres, higher than both the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope - and 10 kilometres higher than the private space company initially planned.

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This was the view from Inspiration4’s Dragon capsule cupola as it left the Earth

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Currently there are a historic number of people in space, beating the previous record of 13 people in 2009.

With the Inspiration4 capsule orbiting the Earth with its four-member all-civilian crew, there are 14 people in space right now, including seven astronauts aboard the ISS, and three on China’s space station.

The SpaceX capsule and the International Space Station also are flying in the same plane, with the Inspiration4 crew passing witin 200km of the ISS few hours ago.

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Pizza in orbit? While the crew’s special food menu during their 3 days in orbit is still under wraps, each of the astronauts are getting their own requested comfort foods.

“The cold pizza better be packed, because that was my order,” mission pilot and American geology professor Sian Proctor said during a pre-launch interview.

“You know, food and mood is so important. So I think for us, it was really important working with SpaceX to get food that made us feel comfortable and that we could eat. And they’ve done a great job of accommodating that, because I think we’re all really happy.” Dr. Proctor added.

It remains to be seen what comfort food other members of the crew ordered, but Inspiration4 representatives say the astronauts will definitely show off their food in orbit. 

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Crew to use specially designed gadgets for space health research

Over the course of the 3 days in orbit, the Inspiration4 crew will conduct a series of first-of-its-kind health research using special scientific equipment.

These include a special set of glasses to monitor who gets motion sickness, a portable ultrasound instrument that plugs into an iPad for studying their bodily fluids, and a miniaturised inflight blood/saliva analysis platform.

The astronauts will conduct these experiments, designed by the Translational Research Institute for Space Health, or TRISH, on themselves and on each other to inform how humans can best live in space.

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