Watch the best bits from SpaceX’s historic all-civilian mission

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SpaceX’s Inspiration 4 crew has successfully completed the first all-civilian orbital space mission.

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The three-day trip ended with a splashdown off the coast of Florida on Saturday, September 18.

This achievement earns the crew a place in the history books and gives them a story to eat for the rest of their lives. It also clears the way for regular orbital missions using a staff made up entirely of so-called “amateur astronauts”.


To mark the historic flight, we’ve pulled together videos and photos showing some of the best moments, including the launch, stunning Earth views, and a quick guitar performance by one of the crew.

Portrait of SpaceX's first all-civilian crew.
Left to right: Jared Isaacman, founder of Shift4 Payments, which carried out the mission through a private deal with SpaceX; Hayley Arsinaux, who became the first bone cancer survivor to travel to space; Chris Sambrowski, a data engineer and US Air Force veteran; And geoscientist Dr. Sean Proctor became the first black woman mission pilot on a space mission and the fourth black woman to travel to space. SpaceX

The much-anticipated mission got underway on Wednesday, Sept. 15, when the Inspiration 4 crew launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Here we see four Americans on their way to the launchpad a few hours before lift-off…

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Once fitted and booted, the crew settled in their seats inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft in preparation for launch…

Shortly after 8 a.m. ET, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from the launchpad, a few minutes later becoming the first orbital mission with a crew entirely of private citizens instead of trained astronauts.

liftoff @motivation4X! Falcon 9 Go! Go Dragon!

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 16, 2021

This beautiful long-lasting image shows the flight path of the Falcon 9 rocket as it carried the crew into space.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket carries four Inspiration 4 crewmates into space.
Inspire4/John Krause

Shortly after launch, the rocket’s first stage separated and returned to Earth, landing directly on a droneship just off the Florida coast.

Main engine cutoff and stage separation confirmed. second stage engine burning

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 16, 2021

Twelve minutes after leaving Cape Canaveral, Crew Dragon separated from the second stage, and after some burns the spacecraft reached its orbit 357 miles (575 kilometers) above Earth—about 100 miles above the International Space Station.

Dragon splits from second stage of Falcon 9

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 16, 2021

Hours after arriving in orbit, at the end of a busy day, the crewmates took their first sleep in space. SpaceX tweeted: “The Inspire 4 crew is healthy, happy, and resting comfortably. Before the crew went to bed, they traveled around Earth 5.5 times, completed their first round of scientific research, and had a couple of meals enjoyed it.”

Speaking of food, this is the kind of fare available to the Inspiration 4 crew during the three-day mission. Pretty regular stuff, though we’re wondering how easy it was to eat Bolognese in microgravity conditions…

A list of meals enjoyed by the crew in space.

SpaceX engineers modify Inspiration 4’s Crew Dragon to include the first all-glass cupola that guarantees jaw-dropping views of Earth and beyond.

Below we see Jared Isaacman looking out from the dome of the Crew Dragon…

Jared Isaacman looking out from the dome of Crew Dragon.

The Inspiration 4 crew teamed up with the space mannequin (yes, it’s a stuffed toy, not a real mutt) who acted as a zero-gravity indicator along the way…

Inspiration 4 crew in space.

Chris Sambrowski taking a picture from the dome of Crew Dragon…

Chris Sambrowski taking a picture from the dome of Crew Dragon.

The breathtaking video below shows an orbital sunset as seen from Crew Dragon…

An orbital sunset view from the Dragon’s Dome

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 18, 2021

Orbiting Earth at about 4.7 miles per second (7.6 kilometers), Isaacman and his fellow passengers offered a mission update from inside the spacecraft.

Topics covered science experiments being conducted during the crew’s time in space, Proctor’s Space Art, And Arsinox’s Microgravity Acrobatics, while Sambroski took a moment to give the first-ever musical performance aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The groundbreaking mission garnered global attention, with CBS Evening News reporting on a chat the crewmates had with film star Tom Cruise, and a particular act they performed on the New York Stock Exchange. He also had a Q&A session with the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, for which the mission is Target to raise $200 million.

View from above: All-civilian party of @spaceXInspiration4 rings the closing bell of the stock market, talks to Tom Cruise, and answers questions from children at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital while in class.

— CBS Evening News (@CBSEeveningNews) September 18, 2021

At the end of their extraordinary experience, the crew braced themselves in their seats for the journey home on Saturday.

Crew Dragon capsule capsized off the coast of Florida just after 7 p.m. a tweet Which included a photo of the spacecraft split a second from landing in the water, SpaceX said: “Inspire 4 crew splashes down in the evening, completes [the] The world’s first all-civilian orbital mission to space. “

A split second before Crew Dragon splashdown.

And watch the video of Splashdown here…

Soon after hitting the water, Crew Dragon was lifted onto a recovery vessel and brought back to land. SpaceX employees were then able to open the hatch and welcome the crew home.

the crew @motivation4x – The first all-civilian manned spacecraft to orbit – returns to Earth

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 18, 2021

For more content on the historic flight, consider watching the Netflix documentary that began streaming earlier this month. Countdown: Inspire 4 Mission to Space Follows crew members on their intensive pre-flight training program and includes footage from the mission. An additional show on September 30 will include more highlights and interviews with Jared, Hayley, Chris, and Cian following their safe return to Earth.

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