It was congratulations all around the billionaires’ table today as Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, took to Twitter to laud his rival rocket mogul Elon Musk of SpaceX on the historic launch of an all-civilian crew into orbit Wednesday night.
“Congratulations to Elon Musk and the team on their successful Inspiration4 launch last night,” Bezos wrote on Twitter today (Sept. 16). “Another step towards a future where space is accessible to all of us.”
Musk wrote back with a simple “Thank you.”
Bezos’ well-wishes for SpaceX came on the heels of a successful nighttime launch of Inspiration4, a private mission financed by another billionaire: Shift4 tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman. Isaacman is flying himself and three ordinary people in space and raise $200 million to help St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fight childhood cancer and other diseases.
The three-day Inspiration4 mission launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon space capsule Wednesday night from Pad 39A of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will return to Earth on Saturday (Sept. 18) with a splashdown off Florida, either near the Atlantic coast or in the Gulf of Mexico.
Riding with Isaacman, who serves as commander, are: pilot and geoscientist Sian Proctor; medical officer and St. Jude physician’s assistant Hayley Arceneaux; and mission specialist and data engineer Chris Sembroski.
Inspiration4 is a first-of-its-kind mission, one in which no one on board is a professional astronaut. It is the first fully private mission to Earth orbit and SpaceX’s first free-flying orbital crewed mission. The company has flown three other Crew Dragon missions since May 2020, all for NASA, to ferry professional astronauts to the International Space Station. Inspiration4 is a mission to orbit the Earth in the Crew Dragon only, at an altitude of up to 364 miles (585 kilometers), offering sweeping views of our planet from space to its crew via a novel glass dome cupola on the spacecraft.
Bezos’ congratulations to Musk come amid some acrimony between their rival space companies. Blue Origin is currently suing NASA over the space agency’s recent selection of Musk’s SpaceX to build a moon lander for astronauts.
Blue Origin also recently launched Bezos and three others on a suborbital spaceflight on July 20 from the company’s West Texas launch site. That flight came nine days after the suborbital launch of yet another billionaire — Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic — on his company’s SpaceShipTwo Unity space plane in New Mexico.