Elon Musk, chairman and founder of SpaceX, pledged $50 million to the Inspiration4 charity campaign, the first space mission composed of civilians, a donation to surpass the $200 million goal to benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
“Count me in for $50M,” Musk wrote Saturday night on his Twitter account, shortly after the Dragon capsule successfully splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida with all four crew members aboard and at the end of a three-day mission in orbital space.
The message earned the gratitude of the mission commander, Jared Isaacman, who had already started the campaign with a donation of 100 million dollars and almost at midnight on Saturday confirmed on the social network that the contribution of Musk, who is also the CEO of the electric car company Tesla, allows them to exceed the goal of 200 million dollars.
According to several media outlets, the $100 million from Isaacman, who also covered the costs of the Inspiration4, is in addition to some $60.2 million raised during the campaign and now the $50 million donated by Musk, bringing the initiative’s total to more than $210 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
“Thank you Elon Musk for this generous donation toward our $200 million dollar fundraising goal!!!” said Hayley Arceneaux, a physician’s assistant on the mission and the youngest American to go into space.
Arceneaux is also the first person to go into space with a prosthesis, as she had to have part of one of her femurs replaced due to bone cancer when she was 10 years old.
Inspiration4 completed its historic mission Saturday night after reaching Atlantic waters at about 7:07 p.m., one minute behind schedule, with Isaacman, Arceneaux, Sian Proctor, the first black female pilot in space, and mission specialist Chris Sembroski on board.
The four circled the planet every 90 minutes, at 23 times the speed of sound, as Musk noted, and at an altitude that reached nearly 590 kilometers, higher than the International Space Station (ISS) and the Hubble Space Telescope.
“The most incredible experience of my life. Can’t wait to share more with you all,” Arceneaux wrote early this morning on his Twitter account.
During their three days in space, crew members held a chat with patients at St. Jude’s Hospital, which caters especially to children with cancer, as well as with actor Tom Cruise and singer Bono of the rock group U2.
“Talking to Bono from space! U2 has been my favorite band since the Joshua Tree (album) tour in the 1980s,” said Proctor, who recalled that “Beautiful Day” was for her and Arceneaux the song with which they headed to the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Wednesday.
Fundraising for the hospital will continue in the coming days with the auction of some of the items the crew members took into space, including the ukulele Sembroski played.
“Two missions accomplished in one night,” St. Jude Hospital wrote on its Twitter account, in response to the $50 million pledged by Musk.
“Thank you for thinking beyond our planet and making things better for all of us here now and in the future,” the institution added in a message addressed to Isaacman, Musk, SpaceX and all those linked to the mission.