Skip to main content

Watch SpaceX's Inspiration4 astronauts see Earth through their huge window for the 1st time (video)

A new video shows the Inspiration4 crew unveiling their incredible view of Earth, as seen through a domed window in their Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The 90-second video (which includes brief profanity, in case you're watching with kids) was published on the Inspiration4 YouTube channel Wednesday (Sept. 22) after being filmed by crewmember Sian Proctor during the mission, which landed safely back on Earth Saturday (Sept. 18).

The video shows crewmembers Chris Sembroski and Jared Isaacman (the billionaire who booked and commanded the SpaceX mission) slowly hefting the cover away from the dome as the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" plays in the background. In the foreground, Hayley Arceneaux gets some equipment ready before gazing out the window in awe, along with the other crewmates.

Inspiration4: SpaceX's historic private spaceflight in photos

Earth as seen through the cupola window of SpaceX's Crew Dragon vehicle Resilience on the Inspiration4 mission.  (Image credit: Inspiration4/Sian Proctor)

Crew Dragon usually carries a docking port for International Space Station (ISS) activities. But with no need to visit the orbiting lab on this mission, Inspiration4 crewmembers elected to instead use a domed window, or cupola, to get a view of Earth from 367 miles (590 kilometers) up, higher than Crew Dragon had ever flown before. The ISS altitude is around 250 miles (400 km).

When SpaceX first showed off the cupola in March, company founder and CEO Elon Musk said the 360-degree view that it provided would be literally out of this world. (Crew Dragon has other windows that 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," Musk wrote on Twitter in late March.

A major goal of the Inspiration4 mission was to raise $200 million and a lot of awareness for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The crew even talked to a handful of St. Jue patients from space, including some treated by Arceneaux — a childhood cancer survivor who was treated at St. Jude and works as a physician assistant at the hospital today. 

Inspiration4 exceeded its fundraising goal by landing day, and the all-civilian crew has spoken frequently about the diversity of its crewmembers and how that helped them during the spaceflight.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for Space.com who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.