In this photo provided by Inspiration4, Elon Musk, front center, poses with the all-amateur crew before departure to Launch Complex 39A for a launch into space, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, at Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Standing behind Musk, from left to right, are Chris Sembroski, Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor and Hayley Arceneaux. (John Kraus/Inspiration4 via AP)

Tom Cruise gets sneak preview from SpaceX’s 1st private crew

Tom Cruise gets sneak preview from SpaceX’s 1st private crew

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Tom Cruise got a sneak preview of what it’s like to circle Earth in a SpaceX capsule.

Representatives for SpaceX’s first privately chartered flight revealed Friday that the actor took part in a call with the four space tourists orbiting more than 360 miles up. Thursday’s conversation, like the entire three-day flight, was private and so no details were released.

“Maverick, you can be our wingman anytime,” came the announcement from the flight’s Twitter feed. Cruise starred as Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in the 1986 film Top Gun. A sequel comes out next year.

Last year, NASA confirmed it was in talks with Cruise about visiting the International Space Station for filming. SpaceX would provide the lift, as it does for NASA astronauts, and like it did Wednesday night for the billionaire up there now with his two contest winners and a hospital worker.

Their flight is due to end Saturday night with a splashdown in the Atlantic off the Florida coast.

The four showed off their capsule in a live broadcast Friday. They’re flying exceedingly high in the automated capsule, even by NASA standards.

SpaceX got them into a 363-mile (585-kilometer) orbit following Wednesday night’s launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. That’s 100 miles (160 kilometers) higher than the International Space Station. It’s so high that they’re completing 15 orbits of Earth daily, compared with 16 for station astronauts.

Until this all-amateur crew, relatively few NASA astronauts had soared that high. The most recent were the shuttle astronauts who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope over multiple flights in the 1990s and 2000s.

To enhance the views, SpaceX outfitted the Dragon capsule with a custom, bubble-shaped dome. Photos of them looking out this large window were posted online, otherwise little else had been publicly released of their first day in space.

Besides talking space with Cruise, the four capsule passengers chatted Thursday with young cancer patients. Hayley Arceneaux, a childhood cancer survivor, led the conversation from orbit with patients from the hospital that saved her life almost 20 years ago: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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