Tourists who spent three days in space returned to Earth safely. Chris Sembroski, Hayley Arceneaux, Jared Isaacman and Sian Proctor were the first civilians to take a space tour and take a few turns around the Earth.
The Dragon capsule, which has been the home of the crew in recent days, landed at 20:06 (GMT) this Saturday (18) over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Florida, USA. The Inspiration4 mission was the first to take amateurs (non-astronauts) into space.
The moment the parachute opened and the moment the capsule landed on the water were much applauded by the team in the SpaceX control room. Preparations for the crew’s return began on Friday night (17). Re-entry into the atmosphere is one of the most tense moments of a space travel.
how was the return
The ship’s computer performed the disposal of its “trunk”, ie, the base of the dome that contains solar panels and energy systems used to control the flight in orbit. The pieces come loose along the way and only the top of the capsule has landed in the ocean.
Dragon will use its thrusters to perform a 180º turn, turning its tip to the opposite side, as if it were in reverse. This maneuver will cause the capsule to start to slow down. The thrusters will direct the vehicle’s trajectory to bring it down from its altitude, getting closer to Earth.
First, you need to find the correct angle for the trajectory. If it’s too acute, the G-force (gravity force caused by the capsule’s strong acceleration/deceleration) could be fatal to astronauts and/or friction with the air could cause the capsule to explode. If it’s too shallow, it could catastrophically “bounce” into the atmosphere and return unchecked to space.
When the Dragon is close enough to be “captured” by Earth’s gravity, the re-entry process begins. In order not to disintegrate when passing through the layers of Earth’s atmosphere, Dragon is equipped with a set of shields called PICA (Phenolic-Impregnated Carbon Ablator), which use carbon ceramic plates capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 2760 degrees Celsius.
The surface temperature of the Dragon capsule reached 1,926°C during the turn. Inside, it doesn’t go above 29°C to keep the crew warm.
During re-entry, there was a blackout period, when the ship was out of communication with the central for about 4 minutes. Once communication was re-established, the capsule’s four parachutes opened to slow down and make the landing, which went off without a hitch.
“This mission has shown that space is for all of us,” said one of the SpaceX employees during the landing broadcast.
A rescue team picked up the crew and Hayley Arceneaux was the first to leave the capsule, followed by Sian Proctor. Smiling, the four waved and were much applauded. A medical team was on hand to examine the crew before they could board a helicopter straight to the mainland.
*With an article by Lucas Carvalho