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SpaceX Prepares to Send First All-Civilian Crew ‘Inspiration4’ to Space

SpaceX
Elon Musk’s space exploration project SpaceX is preparing to send its first crew of private citizens to space. Credit: Official SpaceX Photos, CC BY-C 2.0

Elon Musk’s space exploration project SpaceX is preparing to send its first crew of private citizens to space. The ambitious mission, dubbed Inspiration4, will see four civilians embark on a three-day orbital flight around the Earth.

Inspiration4 is set to launch this Wednesday, on September 15th.Their journey starts at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where they will be propelled into orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceX’s historic mission is in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The organization, which functions as a children’s hospital as well as a research center for pediatric cancers and other serious illnesses, developed the fundraiser in coordination with billionaire Jared Isaacman. St. Jude’s will be auctioning off prizes centered around the crew’s upcoming mission to space as well as a meet-and-greet package with the four member team.

The team includes Isaacman — who is privately funding the trip — as well as a physician’s assistant at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, data engineer Chris Sembroski, childhood bone cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux, and artist Sian Proctor. Those who have contributed will have their pick of the prizes after Inspiration4’s launch, with the highest donations having their first choice of reward.

The team is looking to take off at around 8 PM on Wednesday after preparing this past Thursday with a follow-on readiness review and weather briefing, according to an official statement from the team:

“After evaluating the readiness of the Falcon 9 rocket, Dragon spacecraft, associated ground systems, recovery assets and other key elements of SpaceX’s human spaceflight system, and the current weather forecasts of conditions at the launch site, along the ascent corridor, and at the landing locations off the coasts of Florida for a safe return of the crew a few days later, teams agreed to now target no earlier than 8:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, September 15 for liftoff,” the statement announced.

“This will allow additional time for final preparations, vehicle checkouts and data reviews. SpaceX and Inspiration4 will narrow down the launch window to five hours approximately three days before liftoff,” the statement added.

SpaceX’s historic mission follows Blue Origin’s July trip

SpaceX’s historic missions closely follows Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin’s July trip to space. But Blue Origin’s trip, which also contained a crew of four individuals, stayed in space for approximately five minutes, while SpaceX is aiming for three entire days in orbit.

The Blue Origin capsule hit speeds of more than three times the speed of sound before it reached 80 kilometers (about 262,000 feet), which is considered the edge of space. The fortunate crew, including Jeff and Mark Bezos, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk — the first woman to undergo Astronaut training back in the 1960’s — floated in gravity for a couple minutes. The capsule returned several minutes later and landed under a set of parachutes.

 

 

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