SpaceX announces first-ever space flight crewed entirely by civilians

Katie Ramirez
February 2, 2021

Jared Isaacman, an entrepreneur behind a payment processing startup, is funding a multimillion trip to space aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, which could be the first-ever orbital flight crewed entirely by non-astronauts.

One seat will go to a worker from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which treats childhood cancers and pediatric diseases, and the second is to be drawn from those who enter the raffle and are encouraged to donate to the hospital.

A USA billionaire who made a fortune in tech and fighter jets is buying an entire SpaceX flight and plans to take three people with him to circle the globe this year. These crew will embody the foundations of leadership, optimism, kindness and success of the mission.

The spacecraft is now docked at the International Space Station, after carrying Japanese astronaut Noguchi Soichi and others there. NASA is partnering with Boeing and SpaceX to build a new generation of human-rated spacecraft capable of taking astronauts to the station and expanding research opportunities in orbit. Isaacman said that he intends to leverage this historic time here on Earth to motivate mankind and to continue to combat childhood cancer.

Two of the seats on the flight will be offered as prizes.

The tax obligations from being awarded the seats aboard Dragon will be covered by Isaacman and Shift4 Payments.

He is donating the costs for the seats and has committed $100 million to St. Jude in connection to the spaceflight. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will deploy the Crew Dragon spacecraft into low Earth orbit.

Shift4 Payments and Draken International founder Jared Isaacman has booked a trip with SpaceX that is being called "the world's first all-civilian mission to space".

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Carrying tourists into space has always been an objective for the SpaceX team. Now the mission is slated to last from two to four days in space. It will be a "multi-day journey", SpaceX stated, "orbiting Earth every 90 minutes along a customized flight path" and "will be carefully monitored at every step by SpaceX mission control".

The mission is bing called Inspiration4, and there's already a significant digital presence for it, including a website with a countdown timer. That person will be able to enter an online contest for the seat this month.

"We're pinching ourselves every single day", said Rick Shadyac, president of St. Jude's fundraising organization.

Inspiration4 is set to launch aboard a Falcon 9 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Resilience will orbit Earth for two to four days before returning and splashing down off the coast of Florida in the same splashdown zones used for NASA Commercial Crew missions.

"This mission enables access for everyday people who dream of going to space", read a Monday tweet from SpaceX.

Crew-1, SpaceX's first full-fledged crewed flight for NASA, launched in November and includes NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

The Dragon capsule had just a week prior become the first spacecraft to be certified by NASA since the Space Shuttle almost 40 years ago.

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