Later this month, four civilians will embark on a space trip that will keep them in orbit for three days. They will be aboard the SpaceX Dragon Capsule, Resilience, which already has two dockings with the International Space Station (ISS), under its belt. But since this mission does not involve any docking maneuvers, SpaceX installed a glass dome that offers a great view to the capsule inhabitants.
A look at Dragon’s Cupola, which will provide our Inspiration4 astronauts with incredible views of Earth from orbit!— Inspiration4 (@inspiration4x) September 1, 2021
The crew visited the flight-hardware Cupola in California before it was shipped to Florida for integration with Dragon Resilience. pic.twitter.com/9ivMZrS1ip
The all-civilian space mission is called Inspiration4 and is aimed to generate funds for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennesse. The non-profit hospital offers pediatric treatments and carries out extensive scientific research without charging its patients any fee for the treatments. By spreading the word about this hospital during the space flight, Inspiration4 hopes to raise $200 million in funds, which is still a small part of the hospital's annual expenditure of one billion dollars.
The mission is scheduled to fly four civilians representing leadership, generosity, hope, and prosperity. It will be commanded by Jared Isaacman, an aviator and founder of Shift4 Payments, an online payments processing business, that has also funded the mission. Hayley Arceneaux, a cancer survivor who received treatment at St. Jude representing Hope. Chris Sembroski, a philanthropist, supporting St. Jude representing Generosity, and Dr. Siam Proctor, an entrepreneur representing Prosperity.
Since the confirmation of the mission, the crew has undergone extensive training. In addition to learning about emergency procedures, the crew has also observed previous missions and recovery procedures. In July, the crew experienced weightlessness for the first time.
After 2 weeks on the road..w/ lots of training, sims, launch & splashdown observations, we closed off with @GoZeroG experience. Amazing- way better than I anticipated. Great time with @inspiration4x team along w/ friends & family. Plus flying in old school 727 was pretty cool.✈️ pic.twitter.com/ivDM7LEgN5— Jared Isaacman (@rookisaacman) July 13, 2021
As the unannounced mission date, gets closer, the crew got to witness the glass dome that will offer them views while in orbit. SpaceX could swap the docking assembly with this Cupola since the mission will remain in orbit and not dock with the ISS. NASA confirmed that this is the biggest window that has ever been flown to space.
Speaking to Business Insider earlier in July, Isaacman pointed out that the toilet on the Capsule is also situated where the Cupola will be fitted. So, visits to the bathroom will get one great view of space and Earth. Astronauts aboard the ISS are definitely going to be jealous of this arrangement. The toilet on the ISS offers no view and is placed between the treadmill and the weight lifting machine.
The frequency of commercial flights to space is expected to increase over the next few years, with SpaceX scheduled to shuttle visitors to the ISS, next year. Hopefully, unlike Bezos and Branson, these space visitors will be recognized as astronauts.