In the wake of the Inspiration4 private orbital mission’s success, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has offered a snarky reply when asked why President Biden was ignoring the feat, when even his competitors celebrated the achievement.
While it lasted only three days, the space flight was widely touted as the world’s first and progressive in many ways, so one might think the achievement deserved at least a nod from the White House. But one of Musk’s followers noted that the “President of the United States has refused to even acknowledge the 4 newest American astronauts who helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for St. Jude… What’s your theory on why that is?”
“He’s still sleeping,” Musk replied, apparently half-jokingly alluding to Donald Trump’s ‘Sleepy Joe’ moniker for Biden.
Besides its entire crew being non-professionals, the mission’s medical officer, Hayley Arceneaux, 29, has become the youngest American astronaut to date and the first cancer survivor to go to space with a prosthetic limb.
Geology professor and science communication, Sian Proctor, 51, has made history as the first-ever black female spacecraft pilot.
In addition, American billionaire Jared Isaacman, who privately funded the launch and served as the mission commander, has managed to raise nearly $150 million for a children’s cancer research as part of a charity campaign.
Inspiration4 followed two high-profile private space flights in July by Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos and Virgin magnate Richard Branson. Some critics argued that Musk should not take it personally, because Biden never congratulated Branson and Bezos too. However, neither of the billionaires actually orbited the Earth during their flights, thus Inspiration4 remains the first fully private mission to carry humans into orbital space, a domain that was once the sole preserve of the world’s superpowers.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) September 16, 2021
As the Resilience module was making its first orbits after successful launch on Wednesday, Bezos himself noted his rival’s achievement and praised the mission as “another step towards a future where space is accessible to all of us.”
Congratulations, #Inspiration4! With today’s splashdown, you’ve helped demonstrate that low-Earth orbit is open for business.
— Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) September 19, 2021
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson also congratulated Musk’s team, saying that they “helped demonstrate that low-Earth orbit is open for business.”
Even Boeing, which still struggles with its Starliner Project after it lost the American race back into space to SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, set any possible grievances aside and celebrated the flight, saying “may your journey… continue to inspire and benefit StJude’s incredible work in research for treatments and cures for childhood cancer.”
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