SpaceX's all-private Inspiration4 mission lifted off successfully on Sept. 15, 2021.(Image credit: Inspiration4/John Kraus)
There's nothing quite like a night launch — and this one was extra-special.
SpaceX's Inspiration4 mission launched Wednesday night (Sept. 15) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sending an all-private crew into Earth orbit for the first time ever.
Inspiration4's Crew Dragon capsule, named Resilience, is carrying four non-professional astronauts: billionaire Jared Isaacman, who paid for the flight, and Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski. The quartet will circle our planet until Saturday (Sept. 18), when they'll come back down for an ocean splashdown.
If the Inspiration4 launch isn't already sufficiently seared into your brain, scroll through the gallery below, which features stunning photos of the liftoff from a variety of angles.
Another shot of Inspiration4 and its Falcon 9 rocket rising off the pad.
Rocket launches are turbulent, power-packed affairs.
A closeup of the nine Merlin engines on the Falcon 9's first stage doing their thing.
Inspiration4's Falcon 9 clears the tower.
This long-exposure shot shows the path Inspiration4's Falcon 9 rocket took off the launch pad on Sept. 15, 2021.
Another pillar-of-light shot of the Inspiration4 launch.
The separation of the Falcon 9's two stages generated this gorgeous "nebula" in the Florida skies.
Inspiration4 reaches space! This photo, taken inside the mission's Crew Dragon capsule, shows its zero-g indicator — a plush golden retriever, honoring the helper dogs at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital — floating freely.
Inspiration4 is orbiting Earth at an altitude of about 364 miles (585 kilometers). Here's the view the crewmembers now have, which they're doubtless taking full advantage of thanks to Resilience's specially installed cupola window.
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.
Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.