Why SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission matters to everyone



Hayley Arceneaux, medical assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and doctor specializing in the Inspiration4 mission, in the Crew Dragon dome.

Inspiration4x / Twitter

Imagine getting a call saying that if you want you can join the rare group of less than a thousand humans who have not only visited space but also put this planet into orbit. Oh, and the mission kicks off in about six months.

It’s the call three Americans received earlier this year. And the offer was not for the type of 15 minute space edge ride that we recently saw from Blue Origin and Galactic Virgo. We’re talking about a three-day stay in orbit, the kind of thing NASA astronauts spend their entire lives preparing for.

Of course, civilians have flown to the International Space Station before, but it usually required personal fortune, a bit of influence, and months or even years of training. The idea of ​​pulling people out of the dark, Wonka style, and sending them into orbit has been part of science fiction.

Until now.

As I was writing this, physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux and data engineer Chris Sembroski, who had no reason a year ago to expect to visit space, were circling this planet. approximately every 90 minutes.

They were joined by billionaire entrepreneur Jared Isaacman and geologist Sian Proctor, both of whom have experience as pilots but no experience in space flight.

The quartet constitutes the entire crew of the Inspiration4 mission this splashed on Earth on Saturday. There was no professional NASA astronaut chaperone on board, only four space novices sailing above Earth, researching and making history. The mission is also touted as a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, where Arceneaux was a child patient and now works as a healthcare professional.

This was all funded by Isaacman and made possible thanks to SpaceX and its autonomous Crew Dragon spacecraft, the first new crewed spacecraft (outside of China) we’ve seen since the Space Shuttle debuted ago. decades.

For space fanatics this mission is a big deal, but several billion other humans can be forgiven for wondering why it is important that another wealthy person funded space travel and invited a few hikes. to accompany them.

Inspiration for who?

First of all, it’s important to remember that new methods of transportation generally went through the same process – trains and planes began as elite experiences revolutionized our lives. This suggests that the Inspiration4 crew could be the first of many ordinary people to make it to orbit or beyond. (SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment.)

Elon Musk suggested its next-generation spacecraft could potentially be used for ultra-fast international flights in orbit, perhaps with a lower carbon footprint than current commercial airliners.

Inspiration4 lays the foundation for the idea of ​​making it orbit as a passive passenger and opening up space for transportation and other possible uses.

If you believe, like me, that extending humanity’s footprint beyond our planet has the potential to improve life on our planet, Inspiration4 is an important step on this multi-generational journey.

I am not sure Mars is the best place to build a city or that living on space stations in orbit will soon be practical.

But some things I do know: Industrialization on Earth often comes at the expense of the delicate ecosystems of the planet, and some of that industry could be moved into space. Billionaires in space today could be the first step towards factories or power plants in orbit tomorrow that will finally help us mitigate climate change.

Additionally, the original space race from the 1950s to the 1970s not only sent people to the moon, it spawned many innovations that underpin our civilization today.

The GPS on your phone it gets you where you need to go and our satellite-based society moving all kinds of information around the world at the speed of light can be traced directly to the Mercury and Apollo programs and the foundation of NASA.

It’s exciting to imagine which parts of daily life in 2050 will owe their importance to SpaceX and Inspiration4.



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