Inspiration-4, the first all-civilian spaceflight, is set to launch this week onboard SpaceX’s Resilience vehicle for a three-day trip in Earth orbit. On Monday, SpaceX and the mission crew sent a secret message to space enthusiasts that reflects the trip’s groundbreaking nature.
Internet sleuths on the subreddit r/SpaceXLounge quickly identified an Easter egg written in Morse code in the photo’s background. The note reads “Ad astra,” a Latin phrase that means “to the stars” and is frequently used as a motivating mantra for space exploration.
Sian Proctor, a member of the Inspiration4 crew and a science communicator, confirmed the message. She tweeted, “Ad astra!”
SpaceX’s official Twitter account posted the photo early Monday morning. Other photos show the crew posing in various settings, including the Tesla Model X vehicles that will transport them to the launch pad and the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The Crew Dragon will debut on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Eastern. The focus is to spend three days orbiting the Earth at an altitude of about 357 miles above the International Space Station. The landing will take place on September 19 off the shores of Florida.
It’s a watershed moment in the history of private spaceflight. NASA astronaut training was not completed by any of the four crew members. Regardless, they were put to the test, including a 30-hour simulation of a nearly disastrous flight.
So, for now, best of luck to Inspiration4!