SpaceX adds glass dome to Crew Dragon capsule for space tourists

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule used for the Inspiration4 mission with four space tourists later this year will have a glass dome at the top. The occupants will thus have a 360-degree view of the space during their flight.

Image via SpaceX

SpaceX shows the upgraded capsule on Twitter. The glass dome replaces the hatch openings from the regular Crew Dragon. This hatch is normally used for missions to the ISS, but the Inspiration4 crew will not enter the International Space Station. The dome sits under the nose of the Crew Dragon and is similar to the glass cupola of the ISS, also writes. This nose is opened after the capsule is safely in orbit.

Inspiration4 was announced earlier this year as a charity space mission. The mission is paid for by Jared Isaacman, the CEO of payment provider Shift4 Payments. Two seats in the Crew Dragon have been donated to St. Jude Hospital in Memphis. The final Inspiration4 mission will last three days, during which the capsule will fly around the Earth.

The organization announced this week that the launch will take place on September 15, 2021 at the earliest. The Crew Dragon capsule is launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The full crew of this mission was also announced this week.

The mission is led by organizer Jared Isaacman, who also has experience as a jet fighter pilot. Hayley Acreneaux is an employee of St. Jude Hospital. She will oversee medical care during the mission. dr. Sian Proctor is a 51-year-old pilot who earned her place by being selected as the top entrant in an independently judged online business competition. Proctor will be the pilot of the mission and will support Commander Isaacman during the mission.

Also, Christopher Sembroski, the winner of a charity lottery, comes on board as a mission specialist and helps with payload management, scientific experiments, mission control communications and more. Sembroski is a Lockheed Martin employee and an Air Force veteran.

The four crew members will start their joint training on Wednesday, which will focus on working in microgravity and zero gravity and stress testing of, among other things, space mechanics. Crew members will also be prepared for emergencies, will practice donning and donning their spacesuits, and will be given partial and full mission simulations before launch.

Inspiration4 won’t be the first Crew Dragon mission with people on board. The capsule was used in November last year to transport NASA astronauts to the ISS. A demonstration flight with two astronauts already took place in May 2020. Inspiration4 will use the same Crew Dragon capsule currently docked to the ISS for the SpaceX Crew-1 mission, the organization said this week. The SpaceX team will inspect the capsule upon return to Earth, refurbish it, and fit the glass dome.

Image via SpaceX