SpaceX launches world’s first all-civilian crew into orbit

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According to AFP, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying four space tourists blasted off Wednesday night from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the first mission to orbit the globe with an all-civilian crew.

A huge fireball illuminated the sky as the rocket’s nine engines began to pull away from Earth at 8:02 pm (0002 GMT Thursday). Around 12 minutes later, the Dragon capsule separated from the rocket’s send stage as the crew entered orbit, while the re-usable first stage made it’s way back to Earth for a vertical landing on a sea barge.

“A few have gone before and many are about to follow,” said Jared Isaacman, the 38-year-old billionaire who chartered the flight.

The spaceship’s trajectory will take it to an altitude of 357 miles, which is deeper into space than the International Space Station (ISS). After spending, three days spinning around the planet, the four-person crew, all Americans, will splash down off the Florida coast.

“Congratulations #Inspiration4! Low-Earth orbit is now more accessible for more people to experience the wonders of space,” tweeted NASA administrator Bill Nelson ahead of the launch.

Isaacman’s three crewmates were selected through a competition. Hayley Arceneaux, a pediatric cancer survivor, is a 29-year-old physician assistant. She will be the youngest American to go into orbit and the first person with a prosthesis, on a part of her femur. Chris Sembroski, 42, is a US Air Force veteran who now works as an aerospace data engineer. Sian Proctor, a 51-year-old geoscientist and educator, was almost selected to become an astronaut for NASA in 2009.

Photo Courtesy: SpaceX/Twitter