“Lift-off” into a new era of space travel.
A SpaceX Falcon rocket soared into the night sky over Florida in a bright red fireball. With the cheering of thousands of onlookers, a bright point then moved across the firmament – until the capsule with the four space travelers was on its way to an altitude of 575 kilometers at a hell of a speed of 28,163 kilometers per hour, higher than the Hubble telescope stationed in Earth orbit.
The roar of the engines could also be heard with a time delay during take-off – like rolling thunder, as BILD was able to experience.
Amazing: The trip became the highest manned space flight since the Americans’ Apollo flights to the moon in the sixties and seventies.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk (50) had conceived the mission as his entry into the future huge market of commercial all-flights. At the beginning of July, British entrepreneur Richard Branson (71) reached the limit of space in a spaceship from his company “Virgin Galactic”. Days later, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (57) followed in a capsule from his company “Blue Origin”.
But unlike the billionaires before him, Musk personally refrains from an all-flight.
The historic mission without a single professional astronaut on board was organized and paid for by the tech billionaire and founder of the credit card company “Shift4”, Jason Isaacman (38). The exact amount is not known: it is estimated at $ 200 million.
There are three other passengers in the 7.8 meter high Dragon capsule:
Hayley Arceneaux (29) is a doctor in the “St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital ”, where she was treated for bone cancer as a ten-year-old – and survived. She is the youngest American in space and the first to have a prosthesis.
Sian Proctor (51) acts as a pilot: the geologist is the first African American woman to command a spaceship. She was also selected for her space-inspired artwork.
Chris Sembroski (42), an “Air Force” veteran and technician at the aviation company “Lockheed Martin”, who once worked as a supervisor of the famous “Space Camp” training facility in Huntsville, Alabama. He had won the ticket in a raffle after winning for the “St. Jude ”Children’s Hospital.
With the three-day all-flight, Isaacman wants to raise a total of 200 million in donations for children’s cancer research. He donated a hundred million himself.
The 60 meter high “Falcon 9” rocket with the Dragon space capsule at the top lifted off the famous launch pad 38A in the “Kennedy Space Center” in Cape Canaveral (Florida, USA) without any problems. After reaching the final flight altitude, the quartet will carry out experiments in which the behavior of the human body in weightlessness will be investigated.
The capsule circles the earth 15 times a day. The parachute landing in the Gulf of Mexico is scheduled for Saturday. The space capsule has been adapted: the docking device, which is necessary for flights to the ISS space station, has been replaced with a glass dome – for a dream view of the earth.
Thousands of onlookers had gathered at the best vantage points, including a riverside park near Titusville.
“I had last seen a take-off from here, it is simply a unique experience, the bright light, the thunder of the engines, you can feel the power of the rocket,” said Margie Cummins to BILD before the start when she was in a camping site Armchair on the shore of the bay in front of Cape Canaveral.
She was just a little worried that none of the crew members had ever been in space: “They should have at least one astronaut on board,” she says. She still remembers the horror of the “Challenger” tragedy in 1986: “I stood on the beach and saw the shuttle explode – I always have this experience in the back of my mind.”
Bobby Barker couldn’t wait for the start. Above all, he hopes for an economic upswing through the new era of private space travel, even if billionaires are currently flying into space. But he also takes that lightly: “If you have the money, then you should spend it this way, it will boost the local economy!” He wouldn’t hesitate for a second if he were to fly into space: “If I got the chance, I would fly today! ”
“Elon Musk is the savior of space travel,” says Mike Scott, who declares himself a true space enthusiast: “He’s the only one who can quickly implement his visions.” He believes that even the establishment of a Mars colony is realistic is. And he doesn’t want to hesitate either: “I would be happy to be the first on Mars!“
Carolina James is particularly pleased that 29-year-old Arceneaux was given a chance for this adventure in weightlessness: “She conquered cancer as a child, she now helps others as a doctor and writes history in space – that really excites me!”
The SpaceX mission was seen as the beginning of a new era in space travel, in which no longer the astronauts selected by the government and occasionally well-to-do adventurers, but ordinary people drive the exploration of space. But the risks remain: According to NASA, the chances of a catastrophic accident are 1: 270.
In addition to the start, the re-entry into the atmosphere is also a challenge: The temperatures reach 1,926 degrees, the crew experiences four times the earth’s gravity. In the “Netflix” documentary, which premiered before the launch, Musk described the reentry as “a glowing comet” crashing to earth.