SpaceX plans world-first all-civilian space journey for late 2021
After last year carrying astronauts into space as part of a regular crewed flight program for NASA, SpaceX is now looking to extend this experience to everyday people. The company has outlined plans for what would become the world’s first all-civilian mission to space, with plans to lift off in the latter part of the year.
The mission has been dubbed Inspiration4 and will involve a crew of four civilians headed by 37-year-old entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, who is also a pilot, flies fighter jets in his spare time and set a record for the fastest around-the-world-flight at age 26. The three other spots on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft are still up for grabs, through Isaacman, who is donating the seats to the general public, has some ideas in mind.
One of the seats will be allocated to an ambassador from St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, while another will be given to a donor to the hospital, chosen at random, as part of a drive to raise funds for the facility. The final crew member will be another entrepreneur who uses the eCommerce platform offered by Shift4 Payments, a company that Isaacman is CEO of.
All crew members will undergo commercial astronaut training on both the Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket, which will cover off things like orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, emergency preparedness, the ins and outs of the spacesuits, and mission simulations.
Carrying tourists into space has long been an objective for the SpaceX team. Back in 2017, it first revealed its plans to fly paying customers around the Moon, and in late 2018 revealed more on this, detailing a mission called Dear Moon that would carry six to eight artists into space sometime around 2023.
That mission was contingent on the development of SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket, which has since been rebranded as the Starship and continues to undergo testing. In the Crew Dragon, the Inspiration4 mission pins its hopes on a NASA-certified spacecraft that has successfully ferried astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
The mission will take off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the final quarter of 2021, all going to plan. Once the spacecraft reaches orbit, it will circle the planet every 90 minutes along a customized flight path, and after several days will re-enter the atmosphere and splash down off the coast of Florida.
“Inspiration4 is the realization of a lifelong dream and a step towards a future in which anyone can venture out and explore the stars,” says Isaacman. “I appreciate the tremendous responsibility that comes with commanding this mission and I want to use this historic moment to inspire humanity while helping to tackle childhood cancer here on Earth.”