After orbiting the planet, the first civilian space flight crew aboard SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission landed in the Atlantic upon its return to the atmosphere on Saturday.
They are the first people to orbit the Earth without a professional astronaut – their landing marking a new chapter in space tourism.
What happened during their mission?
The successful landing completes a three-day flight for the four amateur astronauts on board.
The crew took off into space on Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The shuttle reached a cruising orbital altitude of just over 585 kilometers (363 miles) in three hours after takeoff, which is higher than the International Space Station or the Hubble Space Telescope.
It is the furthest flight a human has traveled from Earth since the end of NASA’s Apollo lunar program in 1972.
On Saturday, the four citizen astronauts donned their helmeted flight suits and made final cabin preparations before the spacecraft continued to autonomously chart its way back to Earth’s atmosphere.
How did the crew react?
Their safe return to Earth was greeted with cheers from those watching from SpaceX Mission Control.
“Your mission has shown the world that space is for all of us,” Mission Control told the crew.
“It was one hell of a trip for us… I’m just getting started,” responded travel sponsor Jared Isaacman, the billionaire who paid an undisclosed sum for the trip.
Isaacman traveled with three teammates he hand-selected and funded for space travel.
His teammates included geoscientist and former NASA astronaut candidate Sian Proctor, 51, physician assistant and childhood bone cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux, 29, and aerospace data engineer and veteran of the Air Force Chris Sembroski, 42.
The crew will now be taken to the Kennedy Space Center for medical checks before being reunited with their families.
SpaceX, founded by CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla, Elon Musk, is looking to expand its number of private flights to space, targeting up to six per year.
Musk also sent his congratulations to the crew on their safe return to Earth.
ar / rs (AFP, AP, Reuters)