Why SpaceX’s First Commercial Mission Is More Exciting—and Dangerous—Than Jeff Bezos’ and Richard Branson’s
SpaceX will create history on September 15 when it launches the first all-civilian crew into low-Earth orbit. Inspiration4 will be a riskier and potentially more fascinating mission than previous commercial space ventures.
With Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin both aiming for orbit in July, the Inspiration4 will be the third notable commercial space mission this year. Elon Musk’s SpaceX, on the other hand, intends to go a step further than its competitors.
Unlike the sub-orbital missions that took Virgin founder Richard Branson and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to space, Inspiration4 will enter a low-earth orbit around 370 miles above the planet’s surface.
Before returning to the planet’s surface, the Inspiration4 crew will spend three days orbiting the planet at 22 times the speed of sound, completing one revolution every 90 minutes.
“Inspiration4 is an orbital trip, not a suborbital flight, as the previous two commercial missions were,” said Davide Amato, professor of Aerospace Engineering at Imperial College in London, to This website. “The mission duration for Inspiration4 is three days, compared to 10 to 30 minutes for Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic suborbital missions.
“This is due to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launcher being significantly more powerful than Blue Origin’s New Shepard and Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity, allowing them to achieve the extremely high speeds required to maintain orbital spaceflight.”
On July 11, Branson flew to an altitude of 53 miles above the Earth’s surface on SpaceShipTwo, a plane developed by Virgin Galactic’s sister firm, The Spaceship Company.
While Branson’s journey, which was a test run for the public flights Virgin Galactic will provide next year, reached the altitude acknowledged as the edge of space by NASA, the US military, and the Federal Aviation Administration, it fell short of the internationally recognized edge of space at 62 miles.
On July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing, Bezo’s Blue Origin mission outside the New Shephard reusable spaceship climbed to a height of 62 miles above Earth, meeting the international limit.
The Crew Dragon Resilience (Dragon C207) on the Inspiration4 mission will not only meet but also exceed both of these goals. This is a condensed version of the information.