Venture Capital: SpaceX Launches 4-Person Civilian Crew In Historic Orbital Mission
The flight was chartered by billionaire Jared Isaacman in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
On Wednesday night, SpaceX ’s Falcon 9 rocket hoisted into orbit a Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying a 4-person, all-civilian crew on a mission titled Inspiration4. Commanded by billionaire Isaacman, who conceived the flight ten months ago as a means to raise funds and awareness of St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the flight also carried another male and two female civilians. (Space.com)
Inspiration4 is a huge step forward for humans in space achieving many milestones: The first all-civilian crew to orbit Earth, the first free-flight Crew Dragon mission, and the first orbital human spaceflight mission that will not dock with a space station since the final Hubble mission on STS-125 in 2009.
Inspiration4 is in orbit at an approximate height of 575 km and circles Earth once every 90 minutes on its mission to remain in space for about three days. SpaceX mission control is monitoring the spacecraft closely and at every step.
“The all-civilian Inspiration4 astronauts are paving the way for a future where space is more accessible to all who wish to go, and we are so proud that they entrusted us to fly them,” said SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell, in a statement.
The flight likely opens up a revenue stream for SpaceX from space tourism.
Third billionaire to make it into space
Jared Isaacman, 38, made his fortune with a payment-processing company and is the third billionaire to launch into space this summer after Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos.
“We have been well-prepared for the challenges ahead of us the next three days and look forward to sharing our experience with the world as we continue to bring attention to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® here on earth,” Isaacman said.
The amount he paid for the flight is undisclosed, but is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
“Few have come before, and many are about to follow,” Inspiration4 Cmdr. Jared Isaacman said from inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft, referring to civilians in space. “The door is now open, and it’s pretty incredible.”
Return to Earth
Inspiration4 is scheduled to splash down sometime on Saturday (Sept. 18) or Sunday (Sept. 19); however, the Dragon spacecraft can host them for as long as a week in case return to Earth is complicated by bad weather or other issues.
Meanwhile, the Falcon 9 rocket that launched Inspiration4 into orbit landed shortly afterwards on its drone ship, marking SpaceX’s 92nd booster rocket recovery.
Related Story: SpaceX Rakes In $850M New Capital At $74B Valuation
Images credit: inspiration4.com and Flickr
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