Tom Cruise was given a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to orbit the Earth in a SpaceX capsule.
Representatives for SpaceX’s first privately chartered flight confirmed Friday that the actor participated in a conference call with the four space tourists orbiting more than 360 miles above the earth. Thursday’s conversation, like the entire three-day flight, was confidential, and as a result, no details were released.
“Maverick, you can be our wingman at any time,” the flight’s Twitter feed announced. Cruise starred in the 1986 film “Top Gun” as Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. A sequel is scheduled for release next year.
NASA confirmed last year that it was in talks with Cruise about filming at the International Space Station. SpaceX would provide the lift, as it does for NASA astronauts and as it did Wednesday night for the billionaire who is currently up there with two contest winners and a hospital employee.
Their flight is scheduled to end in a splashdown in the Atlantic off the Florida coast on Saturday night.
Friday, the four demonstrated their capsule during a live broadcast. They’re flying at an altitude that exceeds NASA standards in the automated capsule.
Following Wednesday night’s launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, SpaceX placed them in a 363-mile (585-kilometer) orbit. This is approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) above the International Space Station. It is so high that they are completing 15 Earth orbits per day, compared to 16 for station astronauts.
Until this all-amateur crew, only a handful of NASA astronauts had ascended to that altitude. The most recent were the shuttle astronauts who spent multiple flights in the 1990s and 2000s working on the Hubble Space Telescope.
SpaceX equipped the Dragon capsule with a custom bubble-shaped dome to enhance the views. They posted photos of themselves looking out this large window online, but little else about their first day in space had been made public.
Apart from discussing space with Cruise, the four capsule passengers met with young cancer patients on Thursday. Hayley Arceneaux, a childhood cancer survivor, led the conversation from orbit with patients from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she was treated nearly two decades ago. A six-year-old boy inquired as to whether there are cows on the moon, as depicted in a nursery rhyme.
Tom Cruise converses with and takes selfies with fans during a break on the set of Mission Impossible 7 in Piazza Venezia, directly across from the Victor Emmanuel II Monument (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier). (Mondadori Portfolio/Samantha Zucchi/Insidefoto)
“I hope so one day. There are none at the moment “Another passenger, Sian Proctor, responded. “We’re going back to the moon soon to investigate various aspects of it.”
St. Jude did not broadcast the video linkup live, but shared it on Friday. Arceneaux described how “beautiful” it is to see the Earth from such a height.
Arceneaux, now a physician assistant at St. Jude, is the youngest American astronaut at the age of 29.
Jared Isaacman, 38, a Pennsylvania entrepreneur, purchased the entire flight for an undisclosed sum. Through the flight dubbed Inspiration4, he hopes to raise $200 million for St. Jude, half of which will come from his own pocket.
Proctor, an artist, displayed a sketchbook illustration of a Dragon capsule being carried away from Earth by a mythological dragon.
All four share SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s vision of universal access to space.
“Missions like Inspiration4 advance spaceflight to the point where anyone can eventually travel to orbit and beyond,” Musk tweeted Thursday following a meeting with his orbiting pioneers.
Credit: Associated Press