I’ll give you a few seconds — maybe a minute or two, if you need — to gaze in astonishment at the view of Earth from the recently launched SpaceX Crew Dragon.
On Wednesday,, strapping into a SpaceX Crew Dragon with one heck of an upgrade: the cupola. The transparent dome that sits at the top of the Dragon capsule will provide Inspiration4’s crew members with the best views of Earth a budding astronaut could ever dream of. It’s the first time the cupola has been included on a Dragon, which usually ferries astronauts or cargo to the ISS and has a docking port, rather than a window at its apex.
A short video, posted to the SpaceX Twitter account hours after launch, shows the transparent dome of the cupola against a pale, blue marble, the Earth.
Our planet basks in the sunlight as the Crew Dragon orbits from a height of 585 kilometers (more than 360 miles), slowly pacing around the orb.
The Inspiration4 crew members — commander Jared Isaacman, physician assistant and childhood cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux, aerospace engineer Chris Sembroski and African American geology professor Sian Proctor — will spend three days in orbit, giving them plenty of opportunity to duck into the cupola and stare at the Earth.
And did we mention the cupola is right next to Dragon’s toilet? Yep, the view of Earth should be visible from the Crew Dragon bathroom. Isaacman told Insider the toilet is one of the few places you can separate yourself from everyone else with a privacy curtain and it just so happens to have humanity’s best toilet window. “When people do inevitably have to use the bathroom, they’re going to have one hell of a view,” he said.
Astronauts who’ve been to space often talk about a phenomenon known as the “overview effect” — the idea that seeing the planet from up there changes how you think about it and the mass of humanity which depends on it. Now that they can contemplate it while sitting on the can, there could be revelations aplenty at the end of Inspiration4’s journey.
The mission lifted off from the Florida coast on Wednesday evening and is the first mission to launch with four private citizens. It’s expected to roar back to Earth and land in the Atlantic on Saturday.