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SpaceX mission orbit has safe splashdown in Atlantic off Florida coast

The Dragon had a safe and gentle water landing in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Florida at the place and time as scheduled. Recovery ships were waiting. Boats pulled up alongside the floating capsule to make sure everything was safe before equipment on a larger ship lifted it out of the water. The four crew later emerged from the capsule cheerful, with a sense of accomplishment.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTRE (Florida), Sept 18: The four astronauts flying on SpaceX's Inspiration4 mission accomplished their task and returned to Earth on their Crew Dragon spacecraft on Saturday night as scheduled.

The weather was fine for the Atlantic splashdown. Everything went on well as scheduled. As for Dragon it is nothing new. Of course, this time it had undergone some modifications. The time to hit the water had been set as off the coast of Florida at 7:06 pm ET (2306 GMT). And it kept the timeline.

On board were Jared Isaacman, commander; Hayley Arceneaux, medical officer; Chris Sembroski, mission specialist; and, Sian Proctor, pilot.

The Inspiration4 was launched on a three-day orbital space mission on Wednesday night. Mission over, the capsule after a 15-minute deorbit burn lined up with its landing destination off Florida’s Atlantic coast. The drogue parachutes were deployed. The crew were feeling forces of 3 to 5 Gs as the spacecraft decelerated.

And finally it had a safe water landing. Recovery ships were waiting. Boats pulled up alongside the floating capsule to make sure the site was safe before equipment on a larger ship lifted it out of the water.

The Crew Dragon is a gumdrop-shaped capsule slightly bigger than a minivan. It is an upgraded version of SpaceX’s original Dragon capsule, which has been used many times to carry cargo. The capsule was fully autonomous, yet the crew were trained enough to handle any emergency independently.

They had few problems during the trip: a temperature control glitch; they suffered from a little bit of dizziness that is natural in weightless floating. One had to tie up inside sleeping bags so as not to unknowingly float and hit and disturb another. For food the crew had especially carried cold pizza. And to while away time, each one had a store of ten songs and movies. The capsule had a bathroom but too small to be comfortable.

SpaceX had announced:

On Wednesday, September 15 at 8:02 p.m. EDT, 00:02 UTC on September 16, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 successfully launched the Inspiration4 mission – the world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight to orbit – from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Approximately three days after liftoff, Dragon and the crew of Inspiration4 will splash down at one of several possible landing sites off the Florida coast. The Inspiration4 crew orbits Earth approximately every 90 minutes.

Inspiration4 is commanded by Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments and an accomplished pilot and adventurer. Joining him are Medical Officer Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and pediatric cancer survivor; Mission Specialist Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer; and Mission Pilot Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, entrepreneur, and trained pilot.

The Inspiration4 mission is part of Jared’s ambitious fundraising goal to give hope to all kids with cancer and other life- threatening diseases. Visit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to learn how you can help the Inspiration4 crew reach their $200M fundraising goal.

During their multi-day journey in orbit, the Inspiration4 crew will conduct scientific research designed to advance human health on Earth and during future long-duration spaceflights.

Dragon is traveling to an apogee of approximately 575 kilometers — flying farther than any human spaceflight since the Hubble missions. Dragon’s new cupola observation dome is the largest contiguous space window ever flown. Designed, tested, and qualified for flight in six months, it replaced the mechanism used on Dragon’s previous flight to autonomously dock to the International Space Station. The three-layer observation dome was put through an extensive qualification process, including thermal, vibration, structural environments, and life-cycle to verify capability.

The Dragon Crew

Chris Sembroski was the mission specialist of the flight. Sembroski, 42, of Everett, Wash., works in data engineering for Lockheed Martin. During college, he worked as a counselor at Space Camp, an educational programme in Huntsville, Ala.. He also volunteered for ProSpace, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Sian Proctor is the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft. Proctor, 51, is a community college professor from Tempe, Ariz. African American, she holds a doctorate in science education. In 2009 she was among 47 finalists whom NASA selected from 3,500 applications, but not chosen finally.

Hayley Arceneaux was the mission’s chief medical officer. Hayley, 29, is a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis. She was a patient at St. Jude when bone cancer was diagnosed in her leg. An operation to install prosthetic leg bones was done. “When I grow up, I want to be a nurse at St. Jude,” she had said in 2003.

Jared Isaacman, 38, grew up in New Jersey. While in ninth grade he started a company helping computer users. One of his clients was a payment processing company. He did work there. He dropped out of high school at age 16. He obtained a general educational development certificate, or G.E.D. In 1999 he founded his own company in his parents’ basement. That became Shift4 Payments.

Isaacman had announced that he wanted to use the trip as a fund-raiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. He planned to raise $200 million.

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