A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with an all-civilian crew on board was launched into space on Wednesday night from the United States’ Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, AFP reported.
The spacecraft will spin around the earth for three days before descending onto the Florida coast.
The launch marked the debut flight of the SpaceX owner Elon Musk’s new orbital tourism business.
Within three hours of its launch, the rocket’s Crew Dragon capsule reached its final cruising orbital altitude of just over 585 km – higher than the International Space Station or Hubble Space Telescope, according to Reuters.
The capsule has a cupola observation dome that offers a view of the space.
Aboard the capsule, that has “more space interior than a minivan, but less than a studio apartment”, is the crew of four first-time astronauts, called the Inspiration 4, The New York Times reported.
The crew is being led by 38-year-old Jarred Isaacman, the chief executive Shift4 Payments – a financial executive firm. “A few have gone before and many are about to follow,” said Isaacman, according to AFP.
The other three members of the crew were chosen through a competition. They are 29-year-old Hayley Arceneaux, a cancer survivor who is now the youngest person to visit space.
Chris Sembroski, a 42-year-old US Air Force veteran is also aboard the rocket along with Sian Proctor, a 51-year-old geoscientist and educator.
The crew underwent rigorous training for five months, including altitude fitness, centrifuge, microgravity and simulator training, emergency drills, classroom work and medical exams.
The biological data of the Inspiration4 crew, like heart rate, sleep and cognitive capacities will be monitored throughout the three days, according to The New York Times.
This will also help advance medical research on how the human body reacts to being in space. The money will be raised by auctioning off the personal objects that the crew has taken to space.
SpaceX has stated that its goal, above all, is to prove that the cosmos is accessible to all the citizens who have not been “trained for years as astronauts”, according to AFP.
While the Falcon 9 rocket that was launched on Wednesday is fully automated, the crew aboard it is trained to take control in case of an emergency.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson lauded that the low-earth orbit was more accessible.
In July, founder of Virgin Galactic Richard Branson and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos went into space. However, their flights experienced only a few minutes of weightlessness and descended on earth within hours.