March 26, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz….

As I am writing these lines today, 15th September 2021, at 4pm, the “Inspiration4″ is about to leave the earth with four civilians, on a four day long orbital tour in space. The crew consists of Jared Isaacman, the Mission Commander, Hayley Arceneaux, Chris Sembroski and Sian Proctor. This world’s first all-civilian spaceflight to orbit”, is the outproduct of SpaceX, which is a 19 year old private company, which is active in “space”, privately.

The “Inspiration4” is all set to go at Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. The interesting thing is that this particular launching pad is the one from where the Apollo 11 had carried Neil Armstrong and two other astronauts to moon, way back in late 1960s. As Neil Armstrong had said at the time of putting his first step on the moon, about what to follow in later years, SpaceX is simply moving ahead in the same direction.

The four member crew are all civilians and not the professional “astronauts” of NASA or any other government agency. However, they do have in one way or another a direct or indirect link to the aeronautical field. They have also gone through a rather short period of training at the StarX, as compared to the pretty long periods of training by the professional astronauıts.

The interesting thing is that the 4 member crew will orbit the earth at an average altitude of 575 kilometers. The International Space Station (ISS) is presently orbiting the earth at an average altitude of about 450 kilometers. The “Inspiration4” would thus be orbiting at a distance of about 150 kilometers above ISS. The crew is also going to carry out some scientific experiments during their 4 day long journey in space. They are expected to return back to earth with a splash in the ocean off the coast of Florida.

The aim of this particular mission is to raise money for St. Jude Children Research Hospital in US, which specialises in the field  of cancer and other life threatening diseases. StarX is expecting to raise 200 million dollars from this mission.

The crew is comprised of two men and two women, who will be able to have stunning views of earth and space through a “cupola observation dome”. This specially built dome accommodates one person at a time, thus the crew will be riding the seat with a preplanned schedule.

So this is the beginning of a totally new era, as now civilians would be having a chance to also have a ride into space. Though the charges of a ride right now is 55 million dollars per seat,  I believe that the price would reduce in the future. I am sure the charges for air travel would have been too high some 100 or 90 years back. With strong competition from too many airline companies the price of air tickets has gone down. They have also done a lot to keep their costs low. This is what I believe is going to happen in future, for space travel too.

I am sure, hundreds and thousands of people, like me, have dreamed of going into space. I still do. Rather I have had this dream ever since I  watched Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon. I still have this dream alive, however I am not sure if it would remain a dream for me, but I am sure my children and/or grandchildren would be able to enjoy space tourism.

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