All civilian space mission Photo

SpaceX announces first “All civilian” space mission

Feb 1, 2021


Elon Musk gave major news when he announced now for the first time ever, they're going to send four civilians into an orbit around the earth. None of the civilians will have any prior astronaut experience. They will fly on a crew dragon capsule into orbit around the earth later in 2021. It will be launched from the Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The length of the journey is said to be between 2-4 days.

“When you’ve got a brand new mode of transportation, you have to have pioneers,” SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk told NBC news. He also announced that tech billionaire Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, owns and flies one of the vintage Migfighter jets and has around 600 flight hours under his belt, will be leading the mission, occupying the first seat. Isaacman has purchased three additional seats aboard the mission. He has given St. Jude two seats on the mission. The first seat will be reserved for a St. Jude ambassador with direct ties to the mission, while the other went to a former St. Jude patient, now working as a frontline health care worker. The fourth and last seat will be awarded from a competition of people who donate to a fundraiser for St. Jude. Anyone from the public can apply.

The mission is known as ‘Inspiration4’ in recognition of the “four-person crew’s mission” seeks to raise money to support St. Jude’s children’s research hospital with a turnover of up to a staggering 200 million dollars and Jared Isaacman would be putting in the first 100 million dollars from his own money. One hell of a kick start!

It's not clear exactly how long the trip will be or where in orbit it will fly. Musk told Isaacman on Monday, "Wherever you want to go, we'll take you there."(1) Upon being asked the question of whether Jared Isaacman can take control of the craft, Elon Musk jokingly said that he can take it wherever he wanted but clarified that the craft will be remote-controlled from within the spaceX headquarters. The crew will undergo training led by SpaceX including prep for launch a top a Falcon 9 rocket prior to the mission. They will be made aware of how to react in or to control an emergency situation. They will be made to understand the mechanics of the mission and the aircraft itself. The crew member who will be selected must be “physically and psychologically fit for training,” as per the rules. They must be under 6 feet and 6 inches tall and weigh less than 250 pounds. They will undergo SpaceX simulations but considering that they have no prior experience, it will be a great feat for the human race and a welcoming invite to the local public.

“Inspiration4 is the realization of a lifelong dream and a step towards a future in which anyone can venture out and explore the stars. I appreciate the tremendous responsibility that comes with commanding this mission and I want to use this historic moment to inspire humanity while helping to tackle childhood cancer here on Earth,” Isaacman said. This multi-day journey will be orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes along a customized flight path. Upon conclusion of the mission, Dragon will reenter Earth’s atmosphere for a soft water landing off the coast of Florida as told by SpaceX. If the mission gets delayed past 2022, crew members will each get an “alternate prize” of $150,000, Kathy Lueders, who led the crew program and is currently NASA’s human spaceflight chief, tweeted after the Inspiration4 reveal on Monday. She was “excited to see one of your original goals Crew come to be with the expansion of new commercial activities beyond our own in low-Earth orbit.”

Musk said that NASA has been briefed on the Inspiration4 mission and they are supportive. With this mission, Elon Musk hopes to open space travel and a once in a lifetime experience to the general public. With time, he intends to make the stars accessible to people of all statuses.

References:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iHhFjYXE2g (Official Interview with CNN)

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/science/spacex-announces-its-first-all-civilian-mission-to-space/article33724567.ece (Snippets)

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/02/01/tech/spacex-civilian-space-launch-st-judes/index.html (1)