A 42-year-old data engineer on the first all-civilian astronaut crew to reach orbit made some spaceflight history on Friday, with a zero-gravity ukulele performance in a SpaceX capsule hundreds of miles above Earth’s surface.
Chris Sembroski, a Lockheed Martin employee and US Air Force veteran, strummed a few chords for home-bound viewers during a 10-minute show-and-tell session by the four-member Inspiration4 team as they flew at about 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 km per hour) over Europe.
SpaceX, the private rocketship company owned by high-tech mogul and Tesla Inc electric automaker CEO Elon Musk, announced afterward that the crew was expected to return to Earth on Saturday. Splashdown was set for just after 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) in the Atlantic off Florida’s coast, the company said.
To prepare for the re-entry and return, the spacecraft completed two rocket “burns” on Friday to reduce altitude and line up the capsule’s trajectory with the landing site.
The astronauts spent much of their first 48 hours aloft schmoozing from space, including phone calls with family, friends, and supporters such as Musk and Hollywood star Tom Cruise, mission officials said.
They also appeared by video linkup on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday for the ringing of the closing bell.
Friday’s orbital appearance aboard the Crew Dragon capsule was livestreamed over the YouTube channel of SpaceX, which supplied the spacecraft, launched it from Florida and operated it from the company’s suburban Los Angeles headquarters.