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In Historic First SpaceX to Launch Four Civilians Into Space

Published: September 15, 2021
US billionaire businessman and pilot Jared Isaacman stands with his family during the Inspiration4 crew send off at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on September 15, 2021. (Image: CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

SpaceX is set to make history on Wednesday by sending the first full crew of nonprofessional astronauts into space.

The mission dubbed Inspiration4 is scheduled to lift off on the night of Wednesday Sept. 15 sometime during a five-hour window of opportunity that opens up at 8:02 p.m. ET.

The mission is the brainchild of SpaceX and billionaire entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, a 38-year-old pilot and founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, a payment processing company.

Isaccman is said to have purchased his seat on the next launch for an undisclosed amount with the goal of raising awareness and funding for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 

Isaccman is no stranger to extreme flight. As an avid pilot he has flown in over 100 airshows and is the co-founder of Draken International, a private aerospace company that helps train pilots for the U.S. military. 

The remaining crew were selected through a variety of means. One member of the crew is a St. Jude’s staff member while the other two won seats into orbit via an entrepreneurial competition and via a charity lottery.  

SpaceX’s director of human spaceflight Benji Reed told reporters on Tuesday that, “This is significant and historic because it’s going to be the highest that any humans have gone into orbit since the Hubble [Space Telescope] servicing missions.”

The most recent servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope was conducted back in May of 2009.

Since the flight was announced in Feb. 2021 Isaacman and the other three members of the Inspiration4 team have been working with SpaceX to train for the mission. 

The crew met with SpaceX leadership, including Elon Musk, on Tuesday with Musk giving the crew his assurances that his entire leadership team is solely focused on the mission at hand, CNBC reported. 

The launch of SapceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, which the four non-astronauts will be traveling in, is possible due to a large investment by NASA which has flown 10 of its professional astronauts on SpaceX’s spacecraft in the past.

A key factor for a successful launch will be Florida’s temperamental weather, which will affect the timing of the liftoff and the SpaceX capsule’s splashdown a few days later. 

As is customary, SpaceX will be broadcasting the launch live beginning four-hours before liftoff until the spacecraft reaches orbit.