This is the first all-civilian mission in spaceflight

This is the first all-civilian mission in spaceflight

The concept of space travel will be very different after the Inspiration 4 Mission — the first orbital mission with an all-civilian crew — launches this fall. Once that happens, the history of spaceflight will instantly be divided in two eras. There will have been the six decades after the first human circled above the Earth in 1961, when orbital space was mostly a realm for nation-states and their hand-picked astronauts. And then there would be the Post-2021 era following inspiration 4, when space travel will be definitively within the grasp of private corporations and citizens — an era in which anyone can look down at our blue marble after the launch from orbit.

It's hard to say what the transition will mean : whether space travel and its benefits will become obscene across society, or come to be exploited solely by corporations and the uber-wealthy For now, the answer could be of both. After two billionaires launched themselves into space earlier this year mostly for their own benefit, a third, Jared Isaacman, is set to bring three ordinary folks with him high into orbit in a venture designed to raise money and awareness for research into childhood cancer.

What is the historic inspiration 4 mission?

The groundwork that led to Inspiration 4 was laid more than two decades ago. The market for an international spaceflight is opened by Dennis Tito, an American investment manager who paid $20 million to fly aboard a Soyuz rocket back in April 2001 to the International Space Station, becoming the first private air tourist. A little over a year later, Elon Musk, then a successful software entrepreneur, founder SpaceX whose two-stage reusable Falcon 9 rocket and Spacecraft will get the astronauts in orbit.

While SpaceX was getting out the ground — figuratively and literally — Jared Isaacman was building the fortune that would eventually afford him a commanding spot on the company's first all-civilian flight. Isaacman first started in 2007 with SpaceX and other commercial space firms, telling them he would be willing to purchase tickets aboard a space flight when they became available. But the Inspiration 4 mission itself didn't come together until two NASA astronauts arrived on the ISS in June 2020 — becoming the first private company to do so and its subsequent launch of a full four-person crew five months later. SpaceX and Isssacman began the Inspiration 4 satellite launch shortly after these trial runs. They announcing the mission in February of this year.

The Inspiration 4 crew is expected to start from Kennedy Space Center about 50 miles east of Orlando, Fl. The crew isn't docking on the ISS. Instead, the 26 - foot-high capsule will shoot 85 miles above it in orbit, driving around Earth at an altitude of 335 miles. After three days aloft, the crew returns to Earth, splashing in the waters off Florida coast.

Isaacman, a 38-year old billionaire and pilot, will serve as the commander of the Inspiration 4 mission. As a teenager, he dropped out of high school and founded an online payments startup in 1999, then named United Bank Card, a business that would rocket his net worth to well over two billion dollars. Several acquisitions and rebrandings are lanter, the company became Shift 4 Payments in 2018 and went public as that month in 2020. It now has a market capitalization of about $7.1 billion.

Separately, Isaacman founded Draken International in 2012, a dogfight simulation company that works with the U.S. Air Force. Issssacman, who is an accomplished master pilot of a high-performance MiG - 29 fighter jet, among other aircraft, has set a 62-hour record for an eastbound round-the - world flight in 2009.

Isaacman will study and train three crew members in the Inspiration 4 aircraft. Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a pediatric cancer survivor and physician assistant at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, will be the youngest American to ever go to space and the first with a prosthesis. Joining her and Sian Proctor, 43, an aerospace industry professional and Lockheed Martin aerospace industry data engineer, and Dr. Chris Sembroski, 41, a geosciences professor and science communicator at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, will be Chris Sembroski who is retiring in May 2013.

How were the crew members selected?

After purchasing four seats from SpaceX, Isaacman donated two of his tickets to St Jude's. One, reserved for a frontline health care worker, was given to Arceneaux. The other was set to go to a randomly-drawn winner of a sweepstakes, which ultimately raised $13 million for the hospital. The winner, a friend of Sembroski, ended up deciding not to join the mission and transferring the prize - a trip to Space - to Sembroski instead. Dr. Proctor was selected from a competition among entrepreneurs that are tasked with setting up online stores using Isaacman's Shift 4 payment platform.

The mission is planned to last about three days and then be launching sometime on Sept. 15. Space launches are subject to mechanical delays of course and weather.

Aside from recent overhead suborbital runs by billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos and their entourages, a host of civilians have conducted space missions before. Bill Nelson, the current NASA administrator, ran another time on board the Columbia shuttle in 1986 as a congresswoman, the second such person to join the shuttle on a NASA mission. Isaacson, the first tourist visit to the ISS, proposes a closer parallel to Dennis Tito's current mission. Other had followed him, including Charles Simonyi and Anousheh Ansari. However, Inspiration 4 marks the first orbital mission of a crew composed completely of civilians.

SpaceX guides the crew through all the astronaut fundamentals, and they are taught how to function in zero gravity and under high G forces. The crew also masters emergency preparedness skills — while SpaceX crew will fly itself, the crew must be ready for the unexpected to take over in case of the unexpected happen. Isaacman added some of his own ideas into the mix; for instance, he took the crew on a mountain-hiking expedition to help them bond and learn how to operate together under harsh conditions.

Elon Musk's SpaceX is a big player in Inspiration 4, training the astronauts, launching the crew and monitoring the mission as it progresses. Issssacman can be handling the spacecraft while the team is in orbit, but for all intents and purposes SpaceX will serve as trip planners, airline, autopilot, control tower, and back welcome party. SpaceX has even gone through the hassle of replacing crew dragon docking paraphernalia - unnecessary for this flight because it won't be linking up with the ISS — and replacing them with a windowed 'cupola' to allow the crew better views out the nose.

The Inspiration 4 mission aims to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, half of which Isaacman is providing himself. It's also aimed at helping raise awareness about childhood cancer, which St. Jude specializes in treating. Back in February, the fundraising started off with a strong start, with one million dollars in donations pouring the day after the mission was announced.

The crew says that they'll be helping to perform medical experiments in zero gravity conditions, taking blood samples, sampling personal biomes and swimming the walls of the spacecraft. They'll also take images from the spacecrafts cupola and calling back to loved ones and patients at St Jude. Sembroski says he's planning to perform a song from space, and Dr. Proctor will teach an art lesson.

TIME Studios is producing a documentary series on the Inspiration 4 mission in Utah.