SpaceX Inspiration4 Crew Dragon capsule, Resilience, splashed down off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, delivering all four crew members safely back to the earth on Saturday.
The crew Dragon capsule orbited the earth as a free-flying spacecraft at an altitude of 590 Kilometers, traveling independently at the rate of 15 orbits per day. The free-flight meant that the spacecraft did not dock with the International Space Station and completed its journey alone.
SpaceX Inspiration4 is the third flight to bring people back from space and the Crew Dragon’s second flight. Previously the space capsule carried astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken who were the first to fly in a SpaceX capsule for a NASA mission.
SpaceX Inspiration4 mission brought home a few new records for SpaceX including the first private spaceflight by a space travel company carrying a nonprofessional crew, the first black female pilot, the youngest American astronaut, and the first person to go out in space with a prosthesis.
The crew included commander Jared Issacman, medical officer Hayley Auceneaux, pilot Sian Proctor, and mission specialist Chris Sembroski. The mission was paid for by entrepreneur billionaire Issacman for an amount that remains undisclosed.
However, according to the company’s website, the mission’s goal was to raise 200 million dollars for St. Jude children’s research hospital. Issacman donated $100 million and the mission raised around $53.8 million by Saturday evening.
All four crew members wore the SpaceX spacesuits previously worn by Nasa mission astronauts (Hurley and Behnken). These spacesuits are far from the bulky 60’s Nasa spacesuits. The Dragon Crew seats are part of the astronaut suits. According to Chris Tigg, the suits are designed as “something that the crew just has to literally plug in when they sit down, and the suit just kind of takes care of itself from there.”
SpaceX space suits have several noteworthy features including:
– An in-house design customized to each crew member’s body.
– A design that protects crew members from depressurization.
– A system for cooling, communication, hearing protection, and flame resistance. (when plugged to the seat, the suit offers air for gas, cooling, and avionics that aid in flight communications.)
– A helmet that houses valves for regulating pressure.
– A pair of gloves to interact with the capsule’s touchscreen.
-40% lighter than previous NASA spacesuit
The suit was first revealed through Musk’s Instagram page. Watch the 2017 video below:
Gaming enthusiasts may notice the resemblance with the suits featured in Mars Effect and Halo, both of which Elon Musk has played and admired. SpaceX spacesuits look quite different from Virgin Galactic spacesuits and Blue Origin spacesuits mainly because the latter two did not travel deep into space as Inspiration4 or other SpaceX missions. Inspiration4 traveled to Thermosphere (around 700 KM), while the Blue Origins’ mission traveled roughly 100 KM (Mesosphere), and Virgin Galactic’s mission traveled 85 KM (also Mesosphere). SpaceX suits are designed to travel into deep space (beyond Mesosphere), which is why their engineering is different.
What do you think? Which spacesuits do you like better? Tell us in the comment section below.