Inspiration4: When and where will SpaceX’s all-civilian craft land?

·2-min read
Private Spaceflight Explainer (John Kraus)
Private Spaceflight Explainer (John Kraus)

SpaceX recently completed the launch of Inspiration4, the all-civilian mission that will orbit the Earth for three days.

A team of four astronauts that includes a teacher, a cancer survivor, a raffle winner, and an internet entrepreneur left Kennedy Space Centre in a SpaceX Dragon capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket.

During the mission, data will be collected from the crew that will be used to assess behavioural and cognitive performance for future voyages, and their genetics and organs will be monitored to track biological changes.

Following the successful launch, the spacecraft reached an altitude of 575 kilometres above the Earth, higher than both the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope. The craft’s orbit will “continually eclipse more than 90 per cent of the Earth’s population”, according to SpaceX, and will be visible in various locations with the naked eye.

Viewers can track the visibility and movement of the craft, which will orbit the Earth once every 90 minutes for a total of 45 times, on the website Heavens-Above or N2YO.

When the craft re-enters the atmosphere, two ‘drogue’ parachutes will be deployed, followed by four main canopies to alleviate the fall.

Currently, it is unclear where exactly the craft will descent, but it is planned to fall into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida on 19 September at one of several possible landing sites. It will be a “soft water landing”, where hopefully no damage to the craft will occur.

Once that happens, the craft and its crew will be collected by the GO Navigator, an offshore supply ship used to recover Dragon capsules.

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