The cupola on the SpaceX Dragon Resilience capsule faces Earth in one of the first images released from orbit on the historic Inspiration4 spaceflight. Photo courtesy of SpaceX
ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 16 (UPI) -- The crew of the first all-private orbital space mission has spent Thursday, the first full day of the mission, circling the Earth every 90 minutes at over 17,000 mph.
SpaceX reported the Crew Dragon Resilience capsule with four civilians inside was traveling 363 miles high over Asia as of mid-morning, quickly moving over the massive continent. The altitude is a full hundred miles higher than the International Space Station.
That height offers views of the entire planet unlike those space station astronauts see, former NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said during a SpaceX launch live stream.
On Saturday evening, "Dragon and the crew of Inspiration4 will splash down at one of several possible landing sites off the Florida coast," SpaceX said on its website.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the mission at 8:02 p.m. EDT on Wednesday from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center.
SpaceX released few images from orbit. One of them showed the spacecraft's cupola, or domed window, facing a bright blue and white Earth in the background.
The mission is the brainchild of billionaire Jared Isaacman, who paid for the other crew members to fly in a fundraiser for Memphis-based St. Jude Children's Research Hospital: Sian Proctor, Haley Arceneaux and Chris Sembroski.
SpaceX plans to show off the mission in an ongoing Netflix documentary, where the views from the cupola are expected to be a highlight.
"Dragon's new cupola observation dome is the largest contiguous space window ever flown. Designed, tested and qualified for flight in six months, it replaced the mechanism used on Dragon's previous flight to autonomously dock to the International Space Station," SpaceX said of the window.
"The three-layer observation dome was put through an extensive qualification process, including thermal, vibration, structural environments and life-cycle to verify capability," the company added.
Arceneaux, who survived childhood cancer, is expected to conduct a live feed with St. Jude patients during the mission.
"Patient Slater and brother Sawyer watched fellow St. Jude patient Hayley aboard the historic @inspiration4x mission," St. Jude posted on Twitter on Thursday morning. "Their father said, 'It's proof that with St Jude, these kids really do overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and even the sky is no longer the limit.'"
Support teams work around the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft shortly after it landed with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Victor Glover and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi aboard in the Gulf of Mexico off Panama City, Fla., on Sunday. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA | License Photo