Having announced its Inspiration 4 mission back in February 2021, SpaceX has now revealed the glass dome over the Crew Dragon spacecraft that will enable the civilian astronauts to enjoy a stunning view of Earth once they make it to space. Inspiration4 is SpaceX’s first all-civilian mission to orbit, taking four lucky folks on a multi-day voyage to space and back.
The Elon Musk-founded company, which is working with NASA on the Artemis program, has launched more than two dozen space missions since its inception, including unmanned supply runs and manned space travel, but the upcoming journey will be unique because of the folks who will be in the cockpit. The mission will be led by pilot and Shift4Payments CEO Jared Isaacman and will include pediatric cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux, Air Force veteran Chris Sembroski, and geology professor Dr. Sian Proctor. According to SpaceX, the four seats for the upcoming mission represent the mission pillars of Leadership, Hope, Generosity, and Prosperity.
Called a ‘cupola’, the glass dome atop the Crew Dragon spacecraft was only possible because the Inspiration4 did not have a docking mechanism on-board as it is not visiting the International Space Station. The official Inspiration4 Twitter account shared images of the new reverse fishbowl-like dome, and it has already received positive responses from space enthusiasts around the world. SpaceX also said that the crew got a first-hand look at the cupola in California before it was shipped to Florida to be integrated with the Dragon Resilience capsule.
This is not the first time people are getting a look at what the cupola will look like. SpaceX had earlier shared a render that gave folks their first look at the unique design. Elon Musk, in his customary over-the-top style, also claimed in one of his tweets earlier this year that the glass dome will let the civilian astronauts feel the most “in space” they could ever feel. However, this is the first time that the company has shared actual images, and the general consensus suggests that the real thing looks even better and more comfortable than the render suggested.
The Inspiration4 mission is set to take off September 15th atop a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The voyage is scheduled to last three days and will raise funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. While a recent mission from Blue Origin also took civilians, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, to space, the SpaceX mission will be bigger and more impactful in its scale and scope because it will carry the crew into orbit, something that the Blue Origin mission did not. And when that hatch finally opens, the four-member crew will have the most unique and breathtaking view of planet Earth, thanks to the cupola.
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