There’s nothing quite like a night launch — and this one was extra-special.
SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission launched Wednesday night (Sept. 15) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sending an all-private crew into Earth orbit for the first time ever.
Inspiration4’s Crew Dragon capsule, named Resilience, is carrying four non-professional astronauts: billionaire Jared Isaacman, who paid for the flight, and Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski. The quartet will circle our planet until Saturday (Sept. 18), when they’ll come back down for an ocean splashdown.
If the Inspiration4 launch isn’t already sufficiently seared into your brain, scroll through the gallery below, which features stunning photos of the liftoff from a variety of angles.
The four Inspiration4 crewmembers shortly before boarding their Crew Dragon capsule, a vehicle named Resilience.
Resilience and its Falcon 9 rocket on the pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida shortly before liftoff on Sept. 15, 2021.
Liftoff! SpaceX’s historic Inspiration4 mission takes flight.
Another shot of Inspiration4 and its Falcon 9 rocket rising off the pad.
Rocket launches are turbulent, power-packed affairs.
A closeup of the nine Merlin engines on the Falcon 9’s first stage doing their thing.
Inspiration4’s Falcon 9 clears the tower.
This long-exposure shot shows the path Inspiration4’s Falcon 9 rocket took off the launch pad on Sept. 15, 2021.
Another pillar-of-light shot of the Inspiration4 launch.
The separation of the Falcon 9’s two stages generated this gorgeous “nebula” in the Florida skies.
Inspiration4 reaches space! This photo, taken inside the mission’s Crew Dragon capsule, shows its zero-g indicator — a plush golden retriever, honoring the helper dogs at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — floating freely.
Inspiration4 is orbiting Earth at an altitude of about 364 miles (585 kilometers). Here’s the view the crewmembers now have, which they’re doubtless taking full advantage of thanks to Resilience’s specially installed cupola window.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.