A new video shared by SpaceX’s first all-civilian crew captures their look of awe as they peer out of the spacecraft’s cupola for the first time to see the magnificent sight of Earth 357 miles (575 kilometers) below.
Tweeted by crewmate Dr. Sian Proctor and retweeted by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to his 60 million followers, the video includes the perfect soundtrack, one that every movie fan will instantly recognize: Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra, which was famously used in the opening sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The footage also includes crewmate Chris Sembroski’s colorful and off-color response to the awesome view: “Holy shit!”
The moment when me and my amazing crew, @rookisaacman, @ArceneauxHayley, @ChrisSembroski opened up the @SpaceX cupola for the first time, a true highlight of the @inspiration4x mission. Make sure you tune into Countdown on @netflix to see more epic moments from space! @TIME pic.twitter.com/AKmturr9Du
— Dr. Sian “Leo” Proctor (@DrSianProctor) September 21, 2021
Considering the breathtaking scenery and the swirl of emotions he must have felt while gazing at Earth during his first and only trip to space, Sembroski’s heartfelt response is perfectly understandable. In fact, everyone else did really well to avoid rolling out some choice expletives during what must have been a very special moment.
SpaceX has flown many Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, but this is the first one to be fitted with an all-glass dome for panoramic views of our planet and beyond. During launch and landing, the cupola is protected by the spacecraft’s nose cone. Inside the craft, access to the cupola and that incredible view is achieved by pulling back a hatch, a process shown in the video.
Another video captured by a camera close to the cupola shows a beautiful orbital sunset.
View of an orbital sunset from Dragon's cupola pic.twitter.com/Fl1fLrXD9o
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 18, 2021
Sembroski flew to space last week as part of the Inspiration4 mission. Traveling alongside him in what was essentially SpaceX’s first space tourism trip were mission commander Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, and Proctor, who captured the video.
The crew returned safely to Earth on Saturday, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Florida.
Shift4 Payments founder Isaacman secured the flight in a private deal with SpaceX. He said the mission’s main purpose was to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, though during their three days in space, the crew also conducted various science experiments in microgravity conditions.
SpaceX looks set to use the successful Inspiration4 mission as the launchpad for more space trips using civilian-only crews. However, anyone paying SpaceX big bucks for an orbital adventure won’t be able to simply turn up and hop aboard the Crew Dragon. The Inspiration4 crew underwent intense training over the last six months to prepare for their ride of a lifetime, with subsequent crews expected to do the same.
For highlights of the historic mission, check out Digital Trends’ collection of images and videos showing the voyage from launch to landing.