A New Era for NewSpace: TerraMetric Celebrates Inspiration4
“Happy. Healthy. Home” — at 7.07pm ET on September 18th, a Crew Dragon with an extraordinary payload splashed down in the Atlantic ocean. A spaceflight mission like no other, the all-civilian Inspiration4 launched from Kennedy Space Center into Earth’s orbit with huge crowds gathering to watch, amongst them TerraMetric co-founders, Clint and Katie Graumann. In this blog post, we celebrate what makes this mission so important for the future of the commercial space sector.
Having followed the mission from our headquarters in Orlando, Florida, the TerraMetric team are beyond excited about what Inspiration4 will bring to the next era of commercial space.
Inspiration4 is the very first mission to orbit carrying an all-civilian crew, rather than a governmental one, and has been operated by SpaceX on behalf of American billionaire Jared Isaacman. After launching from Kennedy Space Center on 15th September, the crew spent three full days orbiting the Earth at an altitude around 100 miles above the International Space Station — some 350 miles above the Earth’s surface.
Inspiration4 is running to raise money for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, based in Memphis, Tennessee, and although Isaacman has not disclosed how much he has paid for this mission, he started the fundraising campaign with a $100 million donation — a figure that was doubled by the end of the fundraising campaign after Elon Musk contributed $50 million.
This mission is undoubtedly an important milestone for the commercial space sector, which has seen a huge growth over recent years. Private companies including Blue Origin, Virgin Atlantic, and, of course, SpaceX are making incredible progress for private space, and recent focus has been on so-called “Space Tourism”.
A hugely exciting prospect for many, space tourism isn’t without its controversies. Many people believe that these large sums of money should be used to improve the lives of others here on Earth, before funding adventures into space. Environmental impact also plays a large role in debate about all space activity, not just in the commercial sector.
However, it is difficult to contest the significance of a mission like Inspiration4.
Four civilians flew on board an automated SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. Surely, this isn’t the first time civilians have been to space, but it is the first time that an all-civilian mission has aimed to reach Earth’s orbit without professional astronauts on board. The concept of people going to space without the need for a national space agency, like NASA, might one day be considered “normal”.
As the commercial space sector grows, it is perhaps only inevitable that commercial spaceflight will grow alongside it. Watching four regular, everyday people blast off into space will undoubtedly inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to pursue a career in the space sector and other areas of STEM.
And although SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s vision of humanity becoming a “multi-planet species” might sound a little far-fetched, each advancement in space — whether it be governmental or commercial — might bring us a tiny bit closer to that sort of future…
With over two decades of experience in NewSpace, the TerraMetric team are thrilled to have witnessed such an impactful moment for the sector. We are excited about what the future holds for commercial space, and the opportunities it will present for our clients worldwide.