A new video shows the Inspiration4 crew unveiling their incredible view of Earth, as seen through a domed window in their Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The 90-second video (which includes brief profanity, in case you’re watching with kids) was published on the Inspiration4 YouTube channel Wednesday (Sept. 22) after being filmed by crewmember Sian Proctor during the mission, which landed safely back on Earth Saturday (Sept. 18).
The video shows crewmembers Chris Sembroski and Jared Isaacman (the billionaire who booked and commanded the SpaceX mission) slowly hefting the cover away from the dome as the theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey” plays in the background. In the foreground, Hayley Arceneaux gets some equipment ready before gazing out the window in awe, along with the other crewmates.
Crew Dragon usually carries a docking port for International Space Station (ISS) activities. But with no need to visit the orbiting lab on this mission, Inspiration4 crewmembers elected to instead use a domed window, or cupola, to get a view of Earth from 367 miles (590 kilometers) up, higher than Crew Dragon had ever flown before. The ISS altitude is around 250 miles (400 km).
When SpaceX first showed off the cupola in March, company founder and CEO Elon Musk said the 360-degree view that it provided would be literally out of this world. (Crew Dragon has other windows that astronauts can use, but they are smaller and lie flat along the capsule’s sides.) “Probably most ‘in space’ you could possibly feel by being in a glass dome,” Musk wrote on Twitter in late March.
A major goal of the Inspiration4 mission was to raise $200 million and a lot of awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The crew even talked to a handful of St. Jue patients from space, including some treated by Arceneaux — a childhood cancer survivor who was treated at St. Jude and works as a physician assistant at the hospital today.