- GS 3: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
- Elon Musk’s SpaceX has recently announced that ‘Inspiration4’, a first all-civilian, non-governmental spaceflight, is on track for launch on September 15.
- The spacecraft will take a group of four private citizens into space for three days.
- All four seats on the spacecraft have been purchased by US billionaire Jared Isaacman, founder of the fintech company Shift4 Payments.
- He is raising millions for a paediatric treatment and research facility that focuses on children’s catastrophic diseases, particularly leukaemia and other cancers.
- The mission involves circling the Earth for three days, and then splashing down into the Atlantic Ocean.
- It will orbit Earth at 575km, which is higher than the International Space Station (408km) and the Hubble space telescope (547km).
- It will be the farthest distance travelled by a crewed mission since 2009, when astronauts last went to repair the Hubble telescope.
About the spacecraft
- The Crew Dragon spacecraft will be launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida in the US.
- Usually, the SpaceX module is used for travelling to the ISS, where it has to dock or join the floating laboratory.
- Since Inspiration4 is not going to the ISS, the Dragon module has to be modified for the mission.
- The docking port has been removed and has been replaced with a dome window.
- This dome window will offer breath-taking views of the Earth for the four travellers. The window has been inspired by the Cupola, a module on the ISS used to make observations about our planet.
Why is it significant?
- The journey will provide an opportunity for collecting large amounts of health data that will aid in planning future crewed space missions.
- They will collect data on ECG (electrocardiograph) activity, movement, sleep, heart rate and rhythm, blood oxygen saturation, cabin noise and light intensity, which will help in assessing behavioural and cognitive changes over the journey.
- The travellers will undergo balance and prescription tests just before and after their journey to assess their response to the change in gravity. Immune system function will also be monitored by collecting blood. Their organ systems will also be monitored by an AI-powered ultrasound device.
- Along with the recent space journeys by billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, Inspiration4 is seen as part of an effort to open up space travel to non-professionals.