CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - People across the world held their breath as four brave souls were sent into orbit as part of SpaceX's all-civilian mission called Inspriation4.
This team of ordinary people defied the odds by going to space, and in doing so, they inspired a nation.
Inspiration4 tweeted Wednesday, "The falcon 9 lifts off with dragon and our four #inspiration4 astronauts."
SpaceX also chimed in, "Dragon and the Inspiration4 astronauts are now officially in space!"
So does the boot fit? Are these four civilians now considered astronauts?
"I cannot imagine if you are flying above the planet doing research that all the astronauts will consider you part of the club," said Dale Ketcham, a vice president at Space Florida.
But Ketcham said they do check the new Federal Aviation Administration’s three boxes of astronaut requirements.
- One, commercial launch crew members must be employed by an FAA-certified company performing the launch.
- Two, they must reach an altitude higher than 50 miles above the earth during flight.
- Three, they have to perform activities during the mission that are essential to public safety, or somehow contribute to human space flight safety.
Former astronaut Winston Scott said their training was a spin-off of the training real astronauts have to do to prepare for a mission.
"It doesn’t quite compare to what professional astronauts in the NASA program do. We were in my day conducting all kinds of science experiments, we were delivering satellites, retrieving satellites, rendezvousing in space, building a space station," Scott said.
Ketcham said more flights means changing rules, as companies and space travelers challenge the system.
"There is a lot of squabbling over that definition. My guess is history won't care. It will be irrelevant and at some point in the future going into space will be like going in an airplane," Ketcham said.
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