SpaceX safely brought its Crew Dragon spaceship back from orbit on Saturday, with the capsule bringing the four members of the Inspiration4 mission back to Earth after three days in space.
Crew Dragon Resilience capsule plunged into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
“Thank you SpaceX, it was a lot of fun for us and we’re just getting started!” said Inspiration4 commander Jared Isaacman from the capsule.
In less than an hour after spraying, SpaceX loaded the capsule onto its salvage ship and the crew disembarked, each waving and thumbs up after disembarking. The crew are then flown from the ship to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which is just a short flight from the splash point.
Inspiration4 Mission Director Scott Poteet participated in a post-splashdown call with reporters speaking from the SpaceX recovery ship.
“The group is in a great mood, they are having a lot of fun and everyone is looking forward to getting back together with their families,” said Poteet.
Elon Musk tweeted his congratulations to the crew shortly after the splash.
The historical private mission – including Isaacman, pilot Sian Proctor, medical officer Hayley Arceneaux and mission specialist Chris Sembroski – orbited the earth at an altitude of up to 590 kilometers, which is above the International Space Station and which has traveled the furthest above the surface in years. As a free-flying space flight, the capsule did not dock on the ISS, but circled the earth independently at a speed of 15 orbits per day.
Benji Reed, SpaceX’s senior director of manned space programs, told reporters after the splash that the company’s sales and marketing teams had seen an “increased” number of inquiries from people interested in buying a private spaceflight. He said SpaceX can fly “five or six” private missions a year.
“When the demand is there, we will see what we can do to further develop this capability,” said Reed.
Reed also noted that there were “some issues” that SpaceX had resolved during the space flight, including the waste management system or the toilet on board the spacecraft. Todd Ericson, Inspiration4 Mission Director, added that the toilet “has a problem with a fan that is part of the system,” but a workaround has been implemented with no significant issues.
Inspiration4 shared photos of the crew’s time in orbit and gave a glimpse of the sweeping views from the spacecraft’s “dome” window.
This is the third time SpaceX has brought astronauts back from space, and the second time for this capsule – which previously flew the Crew 1 mission for NASA on a trip that returned in May.
Both previous SpaceX astronaut missions crashed in the Gulf of Mexico, making them the first to return in the Atlantic.
The Inspiration4 crew in the Crew Dragon capsule Resilience after the hatch was reopened. From left: Mission Specialist Chris Sembroski, Pilot Sian Proctor, Commander Jared Isaacman, and Medical Officer Hayley Arceneaux.
The mission also brings several other milestones for Musk’s company, including: the first private SpaceX spaceflight, the first completely unprofessional crew to become astronauts, the first black female spaceship pilot, the youngest American astronaut to date, and the first person to who flew into the room with a prosthesis.
Inspiration4 was paid for by Isaacman for an undisclosed amount with the primary aerospace goal of raising $ 200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Isaacman, a billionaire entrepreneur, personally donated $ 100 million, with the Mission raising an additional $ 53.8 million in donations as of Saturday night, according to the Mission’s website.
Become a smarter investor with CNBC Pro.
Get stock picks, analyst calls, exclusive interviews and access to CNBC TV.
Sign in to get started Try it for free today.