A surprise to those focused on Astra’s orbital launch attempt today, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and the crew of Inspiration4 took to the skies for a flyover of Starbase this afternoon.
Inspiration 4 and Elon Musk flyover Starbase
Onlookers at SpaceX’s South Texas launch site noticed an unusual diversion from the normal rocket assembly activities as four jets came streaking overhead. The 4 aircraft (2 L-39 Jets and 2 Alpha Jets) contained none other than the crew of SpaceX’s upcoming Inspiration4 mission along with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. The flyover of Starbase gave the crew and the CEO a great look at the facilities SpaceX has for building Starship rockets.
Unlike the recent suborbital Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic launches, Inspiration4 aims to be the first all-civilian mission to reach orbit. Another difference: none of the crew are paying customers besides mission commander Jared Isaacman, who is financing the mission. Isaacman is a billionaire and CEO of Shift4 Payments, which is a payment processing company valued at over $7.2 Billion.
Inspiration4 launch coming up quick
The Inspiration4 mission is slated to launch on September 15th, barring delays. Propelled by a Falcon 9 rocket, the “Resilience” Crew Dragon capsule housing Isaacman and company will make its way to low Earth orbit. Once in LEO, the crew will stay there for three days until splashing down 541 kilometers away from the launch site at the Kennedy Space Center.
While the purpose of the Inspiration4 and Musk flyover at SpaceX’s “Starbase” launch site is unclear, it is likely that it may be part of the training regimen for the mission. Space travelers undergo extreme acceleration while lifting off from the launch pad, and Astronauts have historically had to practice this through various G-force simulators or through flying in a quickly accelerating aircraft like a jet. While the Starbase site has no direct affiliation to the Inspiration4 mission and is primarily a Starship assembly and launch facility, they may have chosen to fly over this location to indicate that Inspiration4 is just the start of something greater.