Incredible SpaceX Launch Photos Show Inspiration4 Crew Blasting Into Space

On Wednesday, SpaceX made history by sending the first all-civilian space crew into low-Earth orbit for its Inspiration4 mission.

The crew are currently orbiting Earth at a distance of roughly 370 miles, at 22 times the speed of sound.

The launch from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, was preceded by intense planning, design, and training. Below are some images of the moments leading up to the historic three-day mission.

The Inspiration4 Crew Prepares for Launch

The Inspiration4 Crew Prep for Launch
The mission crew poses in front of the Falcon 9 at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on September 11, 2021. John Kraus/Inspiration4

On September 11, the Falcon 9 rocket that carried the Dragon spacecraft into low-Earth orbit was pictured on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.

The crew includes mission commander Jared Isaacman, the billionaire founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, and Sian Proctor, a geoscientist who is the crew's pilot.

The crew's medical officer is St. Jude Children's Research Hospital employee Hayley Arceneaux. The bone cancer survivor is now not only the youngest American to go to space at 29, but will also be the first astronaut with a prosthetic.

Arceneaux had a titanium implant placed in her left thigh as a result of her cancer. She was treated at St. Jude's where she now works.

Rounding out the crew is Christopher Sembroski, a data engineer, Air Force veteran, and employee at Lockheed Martin. Sembroski, also an amateur astronomer, was gifted the place on Inspiration4 by a friend won a raffle to benefit St. Jude's.

Ready to Launch

Falcon 9 and the Inspiration Crew
The crew in their spacesuits are pictured on September 15 in front of the Falcon 9 rocket that will carry them into space. John Kraus/Inspiration4

The Falcon 9 was made vertical on the launch pad, prior to launch on September 15.

According to the SpaceX website, the reusable rocket is around 230 feet (ft) in length, with a diameter of 12 ft and a mass of around 1.2 million pounds (lbs). It can carry a payload of around 50,000 lbs to a low-Earth orbit.

The fact that the rocket comprises two stages means that SpaceX can recover the most expensive elements of it and repeatedly reuse them.

The Falcon 9 Rocket Blasts Off

Falcon 9 Launch
The Falcon 9 carrying the Inspiration4 crew pictured lifting off on Wednesday. The Dragon capsule separated from the rest of the rocket and is orbiting Earth at around 370 miles above its surface. John Kraus/Inspiration4

The Falcon 9 lifted off from the launch pad at 8:02 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.

At the tip of the rocket is the Dragon spacecraft, which is capable of carrying up to seven passengers into space. The craft is around 27 ft tall with a diameter of 13 ft. Its mass at launch is 13,000 lbs, but its return mass is just under 7,000 lbs.

Dragon is currently the only spacecraft flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo from space, according to SpaceX. It is also the first private craft to take a crew to the International Space Station (ISS).

While Dragon did not take the Inspiration4 team to the ISS, it did place them in a low-Earth orbit that sees them circle the planet once every 90 minutes, and hitting a speed of around 17,000 miles per hour.

Dragon achieved this with the aid of 16 Draco rocket boosters that each provided 90 pounds of thrust even in the vacuum of space. These thrusters were also used to position the craft.

Inspiration4 Lifts Off, Making History

Inspiration4 Blast off
The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Inpiration4 crew in the Dragon capsule towards a low-earth orbit on Wednesday. John Kraus/Inspiration4

While in space, the Inspiration4 crew will perform a series of important scientific tests to ascertain what effect microgravity has on their outcomes.

The Inspiration4 mission team has thus dedicated as much cargo space as possible aboard the Dragon spacecraft to allow the crew to perform the experiments, which will include medical testing that could benefit astronauts on future crewed missions.

The Inspiration4 team says that these experiments will provide "access to space for inspiring projects that are otherwise unable to overcome the high barriers of traditional space-based research."

The all-civilian space mission has a humanitarian goal also. Inspiration4 will raise money for the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. Donations have already reached over $31 million, with a goal set at $100 million.

These figures do not include the $100 million already donated to the hospital by Isaacman.

Inspiration4 Launch
The historic all civilian Inspiration4 mission launches from Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday. John Kraus/Inspiration4