From orbit, Inspiration4 private astronaut crew chats with young cancer patients

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – “All is well” with the first all-private astronaut crew as they are halfway through their mission, according to Elon Musk.

The SpaceX founder confirmed he had spoken to the Inspiration4 crew on Thursday, a day after their historic launch from Florida.

The mission’s Twitter account shared a handful of video stills late Thursday, which apparently showed Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Haley Arceneaux and Chris Sembroski enjoying themselves and taking advantage of the panoramic dome window installed in the capsule’s nose.

The mission is the first to include only civilians with no previous space experience.

Isaacman, a billionaire who founded a payment processing company, is funding the flight as a way to promote space tourism and raise money for childhood cancer treatment and research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where Arceneaux – herself a childhood cancer survivor – works as a physician assistant.

Haley Arcenaux in space, via @inspiration4x

A Netflix crew spent months documenting the team’s training and preparation for the mission, leading some Twitter users to question the apparent lack of regular updates from orbit.

“You can’t make us form an emotional connection through the Netflix series and then have a media blackout,” one user wrote.

“Not excited by the lack of real-time information about your progress,” said another.

Inspiration4 launch plume

Time-lapse video showing the launch of Inspiration4 and the subsequent plume after separation in the first phase.

For previous Dragon capsule flights, SpaceX has provided regular updates and live video feeds. But those were all for NASA missions with American and international astronauts, paid for with taxpayers’ money. Publicity for this completely private mission is provided by SpaceX and its partners.

And while there may not have been many public updates, some very special space fans got the chance to talk live with the crew. St. Jude said some of their young patients enjoyed a live question-and-answer session with the crew on Thursday.

That could mean the rest of the world will have to wait to see what life in orbit was like for the Inspiration4 crew, which is set to crash near Florida this weekend.

“I guess they’re saving the best stuff for the Netflix documentary,” another fan tweeted.

This story was reported from Tampa, Florida.

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