SpaceX's Netflix documentary series, Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space, contains 5 episodes spanning the journey of the four civilian-turned-astronauts as they prepared for their historic mission.
In Episode 5, we witness the team throughout the last week leading up to launch day, their 3 days in space, and successful splashdown. Below are the top moments from the final episode.
The Team Had to Undergo a “Dry Dress” or Dress Rehearsal Prior to the Trip
In preparation for launch day, the team underwent a very specific and intense rehearsal to ensure everything was in working order and there was enough allotted time to properly go through all the stages. From trying on their spacesuits to securing themselves safely into the spaceship, this step included not only the four crew members, but the entire support crew and mission control team.
The Crew Members Got to Speak to Their Loved Ones from Space
The astronauts’ loved ones were updated throughout the trip in order to minimize worry. At one point, the families even spoke with the crew members via video call. During the mission, the astronauts also video chatted with some St Jude patients to answer questions and encourage hope.
During Splashdown, the Astronauts Temporarily Lost Contact with the Rest of the Team
Due to the rate at which the spacecraft enters the atmosphere, plasma practically engulfs the spaceship. Though normal, this does pose a heightened risk, especially since the ground crew temporarily loses connection to the astronauts for up to seven minutes. Thankfully, all goes well, and we got to watch as the entire supporting team and family members roar in excitement when hearing the crew member's voices as they regained connection.
We Got to Watch Their Reactions as the Cupola Opened
Known as the largest viewing window ever to enter space, the cupola provides views of Earth's perimeter. The glass dome is located on top of the craft, just under the nose, and was the perfect viewing point for the trip’s 38 circumnavigations of the planet.
Upon the cupola’s opening, the episode captures the astronauts’ reactions as they stare in awe at the spectacular view of Earth.
The Supporting Team Had Seven Site Options to Choose from for Splashdown
Throughout launch week, the supporting team was constantly monitoring the weather patterns to ensure the safety of the trip. There were seven potential splashdown locations throughout the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico to accommodate a shift in weather patterns.
24 hours before landing, the team picked the site to be used based on estimations of weather patterns and the rate at which the spacecraft would reenter the atmosphere. They went with the Cape North landing, which was the first time SpaceX ever landed a spaceship in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Team Even Did Some Research for SpaceX While They Were in Orbit
As a part of their intense 6-months-long preparation, the team was trained on the various research they would need to conduct throughout the mission. In the final episode, the viewers get a brief look at what this research entails as the crew members took swabs to see how microgravity affects the microbiome.
The Mission Raised More than the $200 Million Goal for St. Jude
Reports officially state that the mission was able to raise roughly $222 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, with Elon Musk himself donating $50 million.
After months of anticipation, nerves, and excitement, on September 18th at around 11 pm UTC, SpaceX completed its mission of sending the first all-civilian crew to space. In the crew's first post-flight interview with NBC's Lester Holt, they all recounted how much the trip changed them and how they will remember the entirety of the mission for the rest of their lives. "That last view of the Earth from the cupola made me emotional because it was just so awe-inspiring, and I knew I'd be thinking about that for the rest of my life," said Hayley Arceneaux, one of the crew members.
Another crew member, Chris Sembroski, said "Each of us have been changed in a way that maybe we didn't expect. For me, it was being able to see the Earth in a way that made me realize there is so much to see in person. I need to go and find those places and explore more."