International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Inspiration4: SpaceX’s first all-civilian space mission


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Inspiration4 Mission

Mains level : Human spaceflights

SpaceX has announced its ‘Inspiration4’ mission, the first all-civilian, non-governmental spaceflight, for launch.

What is Inspiration4?

  • Inspiraton4 is a part of an effort to raise funds for pediatric treatment and research facility that focuses on children’s catastrophic diseases, particularly leukemia and other cancers.
  • The mission involves circling the Earth for three days and then splashing down into the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Inspiration4 will orbit the Earth at 575km, higher than the International Space Station (408km) and the Hubble space telescope (547km).
  • This will be the farthest distance travelled by a crewed mission since 2009, when astronauts last went to repair the Hubble.
  • The Dragon module that the group will be using has also been modified for the mission.
  • Usually, the SpaceX module is used for travelling to the ISS, where it has to dock or join the floating laboratory.

UPSC may ask an MCQ asking: Which of the following is/are the space missions related to human flights? It may throw up 4-5 options (which we all get confused at after few months) like Cassini , InSight , Messanger, Voyager etc.

Key feature: Dome window

  • Since Inspiration4 is not going to the ISS, the docking port has been removed and has been replaced with a dome window instead.
  • This dome window will offer breath-taking views of the Earth for the four travellers.
  • The window has been inspired by the Cupola, a module on the ISS used to make observations about our planet.

Why is the mission significant?

  • According to a report in the Independent, the journey will present an opportunity for collecting large amounts of health data that will aid in planning future crewed space missions.
  • As per the report, they will collect data on ECG (electrocardiograph) activity, movement, sleep, heart rate, and rhythm, blood oxygen saturation, cabin noise and light intensity, which will help in assessing behavioral and cognitive changes over the journey.
  • The travelers will undergo balance and prescription tests just before and after their journey to assess their response to the change in gravity.
  • The immune system function will also be monitored by collecting blood. Their organ systems will also be monitored by an AI-powered ultrasound device.

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