This Wednesday morning, 4 individuals who none of them are professional astronauts will put themselves in an inflatable capsule on top of a 200-foot SpaceX rocket that will send into space at the speed of sound, and possibly up to 17500 miles per minute .
The mission, which is dubbed Inspiration4 it will be the only orbital space mission in spaceflight’s history that was entirely manned by tourists or other non-astronauts.
Launch is scheduled for Wednesday, between 8:02 pm and 1:02 am EDT at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County, Florida, though forecasters are keeping an eye on storms that could disrupt the launch.
The three-day trip will see the four spacecrafts flying free through the Earth’s orbit, whirling around the planet every 90 minutes as passengers flounder in microgravity, buoyed by the force of gravity, and enjoy the breathtaking panoramas of our planet.
To cap off the journey, their spacecraft will dive back into the atmosphere for a fiery re-entry and splash down off the coast of Florida. And yes, for all three days in space, the passengers will all have to share a special zero-gravity-friendly toilet located near the top of the capsule. There will be no showers provided, and the crew will sleep in the same seats that they’ll be in for the duration of launch.
It’s not the first time that civilians gone to space. Although NASA has been reluctant to registering non-astronauts on routine missions following the demise of Christa McAuliffe the New Jersey school teacher who was killed in the Challenger accident in 1986 some wealthy thrill seekers took their own money into space on the International Space Station in the 2000s with a company called Space Adventures.
American billionaire in investment management Dennis Tito became the first to fund a trip himself in 2001 by arranging for an eight-day trip to the International Space Station, and six others followed him. They all took rides with professional astronauts on the Russian Soyuz satellites.
This mission is being billed as the start of a new era in space exploration in which ordinary citizens, not government-approved astronauts or the occasional deep-pocketed adventurers, will carry the torch of space exploration.
But to be clear, we are still a long way from that reality, and this trip is still far from “average.” It’s a custom, one-off mission financed by a billionaire founder of a payment processing company, and though pricing details have not been made public, it likely cost upward of $200 million. (According to one government report, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule costs roughly $55 million per seat.)
About the Passengers of this mission
- Hayley Arceneaux is a 29-year-old cancer survivor, is now working as a physician assistant in St. Jude, the hospital she was treated at located in Memphis, Tennessee. She’ll be the very first person who has a prosthetic body part to travel to space and she’ll be the chief medical officer of the spacecraft. St. Jude chose Arceneaux for the mission at Isaacman’s wish, according to an Netflix documentary. Also she was at the time she claimed she was so inexperienced about space travel that she inquired if she would be going to the moon, unaware that humans haven’t ever been on the moon in the past 50 years.
- Jared Isaacman, 38, the billionaire co-founder of payment processing company Shift4 and who is personally financing the entire project.
- Sian Proctor 51 Geologist and educator , was selected to be a part of the mission via a posting in social media where she shows off her space-related art and an entrepreneurial spirit. She’ll be four Black female from the US who has been selected to orbit.
- Chris Sembroski, a 42-year-old Seattle-based Lockheed Martin employee and former counselor at Alabama’s renowned Space Camp. He was the lucky winner of an auction he participated in by making a donation the proceeds to St. Jude Children’s Hospital even though he was not the winner. The seat was won by a friend and, when he decided not to attend and transferring the seat to the winner.
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