SpaceX Plans First All-Commercial Astronaut Mission Orbiting Earth

HAWTHORNE (CNS) - Want a ride in space? Hawthorne-based SpaceX announced plans today for what it calls the “world's first all-commercial astronaut mission to orbit,'' carrying private citizens on a multi-day trip orbiting the Earth.

The company plans to fly the mission, launching from Cape Canaveral in Florida, by the end of this year. The mission will raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The flight, dubbed Inspiration4, will be led by Jared Isaacman, the founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments. According to SpaceX, Isaacman is “donating the three seats alongside him'' aboard the Dragon spacecraft to “individuals from the general public who will be announced in the weeks ahead.''

The company did not disclose how much Isaacman paid to charter the mission, but he told the Associated Press the trip will raise $200 million for St. Jude's, with roughly half of that coming from him. A St. Jude health care worker will be one of the three other people on the trip.

One of the two remaining seats on the flight will be chosen randomly from among people who make a donation to St. Jude's, while the other will go to a business owner who makes use of Isaacman's Shift4 payment company. The other passengers are expected to be announced by the end of the month.

In a statement on the Inspiration4 website, Isaacman said, “In fulfilling a personal and lifelong dream, I recognize the tremendous responsibility that comes with commanding this mission. While a historic journey awaits us in space, I hope this mission reinforces how far inspiration can take us and the extraordinary achievements it leads to here on Earth.''

Isaacman is an experienced pilot and co-founder of Draken International, a private air forced providing training for the military.

“The Inspiration4 crew will receive commercial astronaut training by SpaceX on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, zero gravity and other forms of stress testing,'' according to SpaceX. “They will go through emergency preparedness training, spacesuit and spacecraft ingress and egress exercises, as well as partial and full mission simulations.''

The crew will orbit the Earth every 90 minutes, “carefully monitored by SpaceX mission control.'' At the end of the trip, the Dragon spacecraft will land in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

Information on how to potentially join the flight is available

Photo: Getty Images

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