Wednesday SpaceX will help make history when it carries the first all-civilian crew dubbed Inspiration4 aboard its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon Resilience spacecraft.
Inspiration4 is set to launch no earlier than Sept. 15 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch window will open at 8:02 p.m. EDT, and a backup window has been set up for 8:05 p.m. EDT on Sept. 16.
Elon Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla, has been active on social media promoting the flight which follows rivals Virgin Galactic's Sir. Richard Branson and Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos.
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The U.S. Space Force's 45th Weather Squadron is currently forecasting a 70% chance of favorable conditions for liftoff on Sept. 15.
Inspiration4, which will last for approximately three days, is targeting an altitude of about 360 miles, the farthest for any human since the Hubble Space Telescope repair missions. The crew will orbit Earth every 90 minutes along a customized flight path that will be carefully monitored by the aerospace company's mission control. Upon conclusion of the mission, Dragon will reenter Earth's atmosphere for a splashdown off the coast of Florida.
Traveling weightless at over 17,000 miles per hour, the crew will conduct experiments designed to expand our knowledge of the universe. Crew Dragon’s 365 pounds of cargo capacity will be allocated for both crew essentials as well as scientific equipment dedicated to micro-gravity research and experimentation.
The crew of four will also partake in a first-of-its-kind health research initiative in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine's Translational Research Institute for Space Health and investigators at Weill Cornell Medicine to increase humanity’s knowledge on the impact of spaceflight on the human body.
Leading the all-civilian crew as mission commander will be Shift4 payments founder and CEO Jared Isaacman.
Isaacman is an accomplished jet pilot who holds several world records including two Speed-Around-The-World flights in 2008 and 2009 that raised money and awareness for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. He also has flown in over 100 airshows as part of the Black Diamond Jet Team, dedicating every performance to charitable causes, and co-founded what would become the world’s largest private air force, Draken International, to train pilots for the United States Armed Forces.
He will be joined by mission pilot Dr. Sian Proctor, medical officer Hayley Arceneaux, and mission specialist Chris Sembroski.
Proctor, a 51-year-old entrepreneur, educator and trained pilot, was born in Guam, where her father was working at the NASA tracking station during the Apollo missions. Meanwhile, Hayley Arceneaux is a 29-year-old physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she was a former patient who battled bone cancer at age 10, and Sembroski is a 41-year-old aerospace industry employee at Lockheed Martin and United States Air Force veteran.
In addition to raising awareness for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Inspiration4 is looking to raise $200 million to accelerate research advancements and help save more children worldwide.
To help reach the goal, items from Inspiration4's payload will be auctioned off through November, including Inspiration4 mission jackets featuring unique artwork by St. Jude patients, 50 art NFTs from 50 different artists, 66 pounds of hops that, upon return, will be used to brew an out-of-this world beer by the brewers of Samuel Adams, and an autographed TIME Magazine cover from the four crew members.
More than $128 million has already been committed to Inspiration4's fundraising campaign.