By Julio-Cesar Chavez and Steve Gorman CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) –A billionaire e-commerce executive and three less-wealthy private citizens chosen to join him blasted off from Florida on Wednesday aboard a SpaceX rocket ship and soared into orbit, the first all-civilian crew ever to circle the Earth from space.
The quartet of amateur astronauts, led by the American founder and chief executive of financial services firm Shift4 Payments Inc, Jared Isaacman, lifted off just before sunset from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
A SpaceX webcast of the launch showed Isaacman, 38, and his crewmates – Sian Proctor, 51, Hayley Arceneaux, 29, and Chris Sembroski, 42 – strapped into the pressurized cabin of their gleaming white SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed Resilience, wearing their helmeted black-and-white flight suits.
Thumbs-up were on display as the capsule streaked into the dark sky, perched atop one of SpaceX’s reusable two-stage Falcon 9 rockets. The Crew Dragon, fitted with a special observation dome in place of its usual docking hatch, reached orbit almost 10 minutes after the 8:03 p.m. EDT blastoff.
The rocket’s first-stage booster, after separating from the spacecraft’s top half, flew itself back to Earth and touched down safely on a landing platform floating in the Atlantic on a drone ship whimsically named Just Read the Instructions…Read More