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SpaceX Plans the First Full Day in Space

SpaceX claimed Thursday that the first all-civilian, privately-funded crew to reach orbit came through their first hours in the weightless atmosphere of space « healthy, joyful, and resting peacefully. » Elon Musk, the company’s founder, said, « I just spoke with the (Inspiration4) crew. » “Everything is fine.” However, there was no immediate information on what they discussed or any updates on the historic mission’s progress.

Unlike NASA space flights, which have open space-to-ground contacts between astronauts and flight controllers, the Inspiration4 crew has had no public radio transmission and no downlinked images or video since reaching orbit on Wednesday after launch from the Kennedy Space Center. Only a few tweets from SpaceX have provided updates thus far, with the company confirming two rocket firings Wednesday night to place the Crew Dragon capsule in a record 365-mile-high circular orbit — slightly higher than intended — and stating that the crew is in good health.

The three-day mission, dubbed Inspiration4x by SpaceX, is set to culminate with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday evening, weather permitting. The flight was paid for by Jared Isaacman, a billionaire entrepreneur and explorer, as part of a drive to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. At the same time, he can brag about being the pilot of the first all-civilian non-government orbital mission.

Sian Proctor, a science educator, artist, and one-time astronaut candidate, will join him aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft, as will aerospace engineer Chris Sembroski and Hayley Arceneaux, a childhood cancer survivor who was treated at St. Jude and now works there as a medical assistant. Arceneaux was referred by St. Jude, and Proctor won her spot in an online contest by selling her paintings and raising money for St. Jude using Isaacman’s Shift4 payment processing company.

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