by Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The four SpaceX passengers, the first fully civilian crew to go into orbit around Earth, returned unscathed from their three-day space mission Saturday night.
Led by billionaire Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of e-commerce company Shift4 Payments, the first four space tourists landed aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida at 11pm GMT.
“Welcome to the second space age,” Todd Ericson, Mission Director for Inspiration4 Company, said at a news conference after the crew returned.
This space mission is the first to be carried out without a professional astronaut on board.
The four passengers exited the capsule one by one and were picked up by a SpaceX ship. They then arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral by helicopter to meet their loved ones.
The crew took off from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday at 8:03 pm local time (00:03 GMT).
Its four members had spent five months preparing rigorously, including training in altitude, centrifugation (G-force), microgravity and simulator, conducting emergency drills and medical examinations.
(Report by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles, French version Matthieu Protard)