Inspiration4, which launched with Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Wednesday evening, shared the first photos from day one in orbit and gave an up-close look at the expansive views of Earth from the spacecraft’s “cupola” window.
The crew spent its first day in orbit floating in zero gravity inside the capsule, taking photos from the Crew Dragon window and spoke to patients of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, answering questions from space.
The historic private mission — which includes commander Jared Isaacman, pilot Sian Proctor, medical officer Hayley Arceneaux and mission specialist Chris Sembroski — is orbiting the planet at an altitude of 585 kilometers (363.5 miles), which is above the International Space Station and the highest altitude humans have traveled in years.
Inspiration4, which is expected to return to Earth and splash down this weekend, was paid for by Isaacman for an undisclosed amount, with the main goal of the spaceflight to raise $200 million for St. Jude.
SpaceX modified the top of Crew Dragon capsule Resilience to add a massive window for the astronauts, replacing the docking hatch that is under the spacecraft’s nose cone with the cupola.
The cupola is the largest window by surface area ever put in space.
Isaacman is the third billionaire to fly to space this year, following Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos in July. But the latter two — flying with their respective companies, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin — spent only a couple of minutes each in space, as those companies’ rockets fly on what are known as suborbital trips. In contrast, Inspiration4 is an orbital mission, with the crew spending multiple days in space and going around the Earth as many as 15 times in day.
Musk, among those who saw them off before launch, tweeted that he spoke to the Inspiration4 crew Thursday and that “all is well.”
“Missions like Inspiration4 help advance spaceflight to enable ultimately anyone to go to orbit & beyond,” Musk wrote in another tweet.
The Inspiration4 crew is making history in ways beyond becoming the first group of nonprofessional astronauts in orbit: Proctor is the first Black female to pilot a spacecraft, and Arceneaux is the youngest American and first person with a prosthesis to fly in space.
Check out more photos from launch day at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida: