Inspiring

SpaceX image reveals critical step before Inspiration4 mission

SpaceX

Preparations are coming to an end for SpaceX’s next crewed rocket launch. And while any crewed spaceflight is worth paying attention to, this one is especially exciting.

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SpaceX

On September 12, SpaceX shared photos of the Falcon 9 rocket and attached Dragon crew capsule on NASA’s Launch Complex 39A — the same launch site that sent Apollo 11 astronauts to the Moon.

Falcon 9 (the rocket) is on the right and Dragon (the capsule) is on the left.

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The Inspiration4 mission isn’t heading to the Moon, but it is an important milestone for space travel.

Amateurs have flown to space before, but Inspiration4 marks the first all-civilian space crew ever.

SpaceX

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And while they’re not exactly following in Apollo 11’s footsteps, the crew will fly higher than the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Hayley Arceneaux

The historic mission is helping to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Crewmember Hayley Arceneaux is a physician assistant for the hospital and a survivor of childhood cancer.

She’s joined by (from left to right): Christopher Sembroski, Sian Proctor, and Jared Isaacman.

SpaceX

SpaceX

Carrying the crew into orbit will be SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The reusable rocket is key to SpaceX’s future, lowering the cost of successive launches.

Atop the Falcon 9 sits the equally impressive Crew Dragon capsule. For Inspiration4, Dragon will operate autonomously (though the crew can take control if something goes awry).

SpaceX

Since Inspiration4’s Dragon capsule won’t be docking with the ISS, SpaceX replaced its docking system with a domed window, giving the crew a view no one but a handful of astronauts has ever had before.

Inspiration4

NASA

That view should help pass the three days the civilian astronauts will spend in the cramped quarters of the Dragon together before splashing down off the coast of Florida.

Inspiration4 is set to launch on the night of September 15.

The five-hour launch window starts at 8 p.m. Eastern.

SpaceX