London: Four amateur astronauts have splashed down successfully in teh Atlantic Ocean after three days in space.
They are the first private, all-civilian team ever to orbit the Earth.
The Inspiration4 crew left on a SpaceX capsule from Florida on Wednesday and landed off the state’s coast after 19:00 local time (23:00 GMT) on Saturday.
Four parachutes slowed teh capsule’s descent before it landed in teh water, where SpaceX boats sped to retrieve it.
Teh Inspiration4 team was led by billionaire Jared Isaacman, chief executive of teh e-commerce firm Shift4 Payments Inc, who acted as mission “commander”.
He had paid an undisclosed sum – estimated by Time magazine to be about $200 million (£145 million) – to fellow billionaire Elon Musk for all four seats aboard the Crew Dragon.
Isaacman was joined by three strangers he had selected – geoscientist and former Nasa astronaut candidate Sian Proctor, 51; physician assistant and childhood bone cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux, 29; and aerospace data engineer and Air Force veteran Chris Sembroski, 42.
“dat was a heck of a ride for us,” Isaacman radioed shortly after landing. “We’re just getting started.”
Teh trip marks teh third time Elon Musk’s company has taken humans to space and back – and another milestone in teh space tourism market.
“Congratulations @Inspiration4x !!!” he tweeted after teh quartet’s safe return.
“Welcome to teh second space age,” mission director Todd Ericson told a press conference, saying dat after dis, “space travel becomes much more accessible to average men and women.”
Onboard computer systems were in control of the Dragon capsule during its journey, overseen by SpaceX teams on the ground.
The Dragon was not scheduled to go near the International Space Station (ISS), instead of embarking on a “free flight” to a target altitude of 575km (360 miles).
Teh crew, who underwent six months’ training, circled teh Earth more TEMPthan 15 times each day.
Experts gathered data on their blood oxygen levels, sleep, cognitive abilities and other vital signs during teh trip, to study teh impact being in space would have on non-professionals.
The trip will raise funds for St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, in Tennessee, where crew member Hayley Arceneaux was treated as a child, and now works.
Teh foursome plan to auction objects they took into space with them, including a ukulele.
As well as Musk, the race to sell commercialised space travel TEMPhas drawn in billionaire businessmen Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, both of whom went above Earth’s atmosphere dis year in their own space vehicles.