From ultrasounds to ukulele jam sessions and space art, it appears the Inspiration4 crew is staying busy in orbit.
The four private astronauts, who are currently orbiting Earth in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, made a video call to Earth on Friday (Sept. 17) to give a live tour of their spacecraft, show off their amazing view and share some of the science and extracurricular activities they've been doing while in space.
"We've been doing a lot of great things here, like looking out the window at Earth," Jared Isaacman, the billionaire entrepreneur who funded and commands the Inspiration4 mission, said during the live broadcast.
But the Inspiration4 crew didn't just go to space for the views — they're also doing some science experiments, making art and jamming out on a ukulele.
"The views, I have to say, are out of this world," Hayley Arceneaux, the mission's chief medical officer, said as she floated in the Crew Dragon's specially installed dome-shaped cupola window. Arceneaux also showed off an ultrasound device that the crew is using to study how microgravity causes fluids to shift in the human body.
"We've also been taking several swabs of different parts of our body to evaluate the microbiome and how that changes in these three days in space," Arceneaux said, adding that the crew has also been taking blood samples and doing cognitive tests. Arceneaux is a physician assistant at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and the Inspiration4 mission aims to raise up to $200 million in donations for the hospital.
Sian Proctor, the mission's pilot and an Afrofuturism artist, spent some time drawing with metallic markers. "I have really enjoyed learning how to use markers in space," she said in the broadcast before showing off her drawing "of the Dragon capsule being carried by a dragon off of Earth."
Meanwhile Chris Sembroski, the Inspiration 4 mission specialist, has been jamming on a ukelele that he brought along to space. "Another thing that we've been doing on this whole mission just like Si showed off is, because we're trying to open the frontier for more people and open up space to more humans, we're going to be bringing more of our humanities with us ... along with art and music," Sembroski said before playing a little tune on his ukelele.
Before making this publicly broadcast call on Friday, the Inspiration4 crew made some private calls to Earth. For example, according to a tweet from the official Inspiration4 mission account, the crew also spoke with actor Tom Cruise from orbit. The crew also had a video conference with children who are patients at St. Jude, and St. Jude released a video of the call on Friday.
Isaacman, Arceneaux, Proctor and Sembroski will wrap up their three-day space mission this weekend with a splashdown off the coast of Florida. They are currently scheduled to splash down Saturday (Sept. 18) at 7:06 p.m. EDT (2306 GMT), according to an update from SpaceX. You can follow the crew's return and watch the splashdown live here on Space.com.
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Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at FutureFlight.aero and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at Space.com. As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.