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SpaceX shows off its huge dome window on Dragon for private Inspiration4 spaceflight

Billionaire Jared Isaacman, the financier of SpaceX's Inspiration4 private spaceflight, poses with inside the Dragon Cupola window that will be used on the historic all-civilian space mission.
Billionaire Jared Isaacman, the financier of SpaceX's Inspiration4 private spaceflight, poses with inside the Dragon Cupola window that will be used on the historic all-civilian space mission. (Image credit: Inspiration4)

The four astronauts poised to launch on first-ever all-civilian SpaceX mission this month will have one heck of a view once they reach orbit.

When the crew of Inspiration4 (as the mission is called) launches on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on Sept. 15, their capsule will carry a huge glass dome in place of a docking port to offer the ultimate window on the world. Now, we have a clear idea of what that view may be like.

"A look at Dragon's Cupola, which will provide our Inspiration4 astronauts with incredible views of Earth from orbit!" the Inspiration4 team wrote on Twitter Tuesday (Sept. 1) while sharing images of crewmembers trying out the dome window. 

"The crew visited the flight-hardware Cupola in California before it was shipped to Florida for integration with Dragon Resilience," the team added.

Related: Inspiration4: SpaceX's historic private spaceflight in photos

SpaceX's new cupola for its Crew Dragon spacecraft was first unveiled in March, when the full crew was revealed for the Inspiration4 mission. At the time, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk touted the window's 360-degree views of space as something that will be truly out of this world. Dragon does have other windows astronauts can use, but they are smaller and lie flat along the capsule's sides.

"Probably most 'in space' you could possibly feel by being in a glass dome," SpaceX founder Musk wrote on Twitter during the announcement.

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In this artist's visualization, you can see SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft modified with a cupola observation window for the upcoming Inspiration4 mission.

In this artist's visualization, you can see SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft modified with a cupola observation window for the upcoming Inspiration4 mission. (Image credit: SpaceX)
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Inspiration4 astronaut Sian Proctor tries out SpaceX's new cupola window for its Crew Dragon spacecraft before it was installed on the vehicle.

Inspiration4 astronaut Sian Proctor tries out SpaceX's new cupola window for its Crew Dragon spacecraft before it was installed on the vehicle. (Image credit: Inspiration4)
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Inspiration4 astronaut Hayley Arcenaux tries out SpaceX's new cupola window for its Crew Dragon spacecraft before it was installed on the vehicle.

Inspiration4 astronaut Hayley Arceneaux tries out SpaceX's new cupola window for its Crew Dragon spacecraft before it was installed on the vehicle. (Image credit: Inspiration4)
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Inspiration4 astronaut Chris Sembroski tries out SpaceX's new cupola window for its Crew Dragon spacecraft before it was installed on the vehicle.

Inspiration4 astronaut Chris Sembroski tries out SpaceX's new cupola window for its Crew Dragon spacecraft before it was installed on the vehicle. (Image credit: Inspiration4)

Inspiration4 is an all-civilian flight financed by the billionaire entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, who is commanding the mission, with geoscientist and science communicator Sian Proctor as pilot. Hayley Arceneaux, a childhood bone cancer survivor and St. Jude physician's assistant, and data engineer Chris Sembroski round out the crew as mission specialists. Proctor and Sembroski were selected as part of a global contest for a trip on the flight, which will last about three days.

Related: Inspiration4 astronauts to conduct health research on private SpaceX mission

Isaacman called the glass cupola an "engineering marvel" when it was announced earlier this year. The dome window replaces the docking port at the nose of SpaceX's Crew Dragon Resilience, which the company used to launch NASA's Crew-1 astronauts to the International Space Station in November 2020. The spacecraft returned to Earth in May. 

Since the Inspiration4 mission will stay free-flying in orbit and not visit the space station, its docking port was not required for the private spaceflight. 

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.