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First view from new Crew Dragon shows marble-like Earth

SpaceX has posted footage showing the stunning view now being enjoyed by its first all-civilian crew.

View from Dragon’s cupola

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 16, 2021

The historic Inspiration4 mission launched from Kennedy Space Center at just after 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday, September 15, with the four crewmates reaching Earth orbit a short while later.

The scenery from the Crew Dragon spacecraft is even more dramatic than what astronauts enjoy from the International Space Station (ISS), with the higher orbit giving Earth a more marble-like appearance. The Crew Dragon is orbiting Earth at an altitude of 358 miles (575 km), 100 miles (160 km) above the ISS and the furthest it has ever traveled from our planet.

The video shared by SpaceX shows the spacecraft’s new glass dome. Its engineers were able to put it in place of the Crew Dragon’s docking mechanism as the Inspiration4 mission is not linking up with the space station. The dome is fitted beneath the nose cone, which is designed to open up when the spacecraft reaches orbit.

Crewmates Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Dr. Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski will orbit Earth for about three days before returning home.

During their time in space, they’ll conduct various science experiments in microgravity conditions — so long as they can turn their attention from the breathtaking view, that is.

Entrepreneur Isaacman, who founded payment processing company Shift4 Payments, secured the groundbreaking mission in a private deal with SpaceX. The three other three passengers were then selected through various means, with all four undergoing intense training for the flight over the last six months.

Isaacman made clear early on that the main goal of the Inspiration4 mission is to raise funds of at least $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

For SpaceX, the mission marks the start of a potentially lucrative space tourism business that will operate alongside its astronaut flights between Earth and the ISS and small satellite launches for private companies and its Starlink internet service.

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Trevor Mogg
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