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Inspiration4 civilian mission plans splashdown Saturday evening

Inspiration4 civilian mission plans splashdown Saturday evening
Hayley Arceneaux, the medical officer for the Inspiration4 crew, floats in the microgravity of orbit while looking out the SpaceX capsule cupola at Earth. Photo courtesy of Inspiration4

Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The crew of the first all-civilian orbital space mission, Inspiration4, plans to splash down off the coast of Florida on Saturday evening.

SpaceX plans a 7:06 p.m. EDT return to Earth in Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

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"We're seeing the world every 90 minutes. That's how fast we're traveling around -- it's pretty incredible," billionaire and mission commander Jared Isaacman said during a live broadcast late Friday afternoon.

The crew briefly attempted to show a live view from the SpaceX Crew Dragon cupola, a large domed window that provide views of Earth and space. But the spacecraft entered nighttime darkness as they did, which prevented good views from the camera.

Pilot Sian Proctor showed off artwork she made during the mission, while mission specialist Chris Sembroski played a ukulele briefly on the livestream.

The crew performed science experiments, took photos of the Earth and spoke to actor Tom Cruise and childhood cancer patients on Thursday and Friday, mission officials said.

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The SpaceX Dragon capsule that was launched from Florida Wednesday night orbited the Earth at 357 miles high Friday as the four civilians aboard worked and adjusted to microgravity.

Children undergoing treatment at Memphis-based St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the benefactor of the mission, spoke virtually to the crew Thursday.

"What do you do for fun in space?" patient Luna asked in Spanish on a livestream.

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"We're doing a lot of fun things, like now. And we're eating, doing chores and looking out the window at the world," the crew's medical officer Hayley Arceneaux, a cancer survivor treated at St. Jude, replied in Spanish.

Other questions addressed such topics as whether cows live on the moon and whether aliens are found in space.

The mission leaders did not provide details about the talk with Tom Cruise, only saying they shared their experiences from the mission. Cruise is expected to film a movie in space, although few details are known. Former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted in May 2020 that NASA was working with the actor.

Inspiration4 is led by Isaacman, who donated $100 million to St. Jude to inspire others to give, he has said. He invited Arceneaux, Proctor and Sembroski to join him, partly to show that everyday people now can travel to space.

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SpaceX Inspiration4 mission: first all-civilian crew to orbit Earth

Inspiration4, the world's first all-civilian mission to space, safely returns to Earth while splashing down on the Atlantic Ocean outside of Florida, on September 18, 2021, following their groundbreaking three-day mission. Photo courtesy of SpaceX | License Photo

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