SpaceX — First-ever civilian crew takes off next week

SpaceX is set to launch its first-ever commercial crew on a three-day journey around the Earth next week.

The Inspiration4 crew will undertake the journey in the Crew Dragon spacecraft to conduct research and raise funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Falcon 9 will send the reused Dragon crew capsule with a crew consisting of four private civilians into space on 15 September.

Teams from SpaceX and Inspiration4 met on 2 September to begin Flight Readiness Reviews on the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, ground systems, recovery aspects, and crew training.

The Inspiration4 crew, which has spent the past six months training for the occasion, consists of:

  • Mission Commander — Jared Isaacman
  • Mission Pilot — Sian Proctor
  • Medical Officer — Hayley Arceneaux
  • Mission Specialist — Chris Sembroski

Isaacman, the founder of Shift4 Payments, purchased the flight and donated three seats to “inspire humanity” and raise funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

The crew’s preparation consisted of “centrifuge training, Dragon simulations, observations of other SpaceX launch operations, Zero-G plane training, altitude training, and additional classroom, simulation, and medical testing,” Inspiration4 said.

Roughly three days before launch, the 24-hour launch window (beginning at midnight UTC) will be narrowed to five hours based on weather conditions at launch, along the ascent corridor, and at landing sites.

An alternate launch opportunity is available on 16 September in case of weather disruptions.

The operation will take off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with the intention of reaching the same altitude as the Hubble Space Telescope, 540km.

The crew will be presented with “incredible views of Earth” through the domed window that replaces the docking station used in previous flights.

Once at altitude, the crew will orbit the Earth for three days before landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Inspiration4’s goal is to inspire humanity to support St. Jude here on earth while also seeing new possibilities for human spaceflight,” Jared Isaacman said.

“Each of these outstanding crew members embodies the best of humanity, and I am humbled to lead them on this historic and purposeful mission and the adventure of a lifetime.”

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SpaceX — First-ever civilian crew takes off next week