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Inspiration4: 10 things you need to know about SpaceX’s fully civilian private mission

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CAP CANAVERAL, Fla .– SpaceX’s next astronaut launch is only four days away. On Wednesday (September 15), a crew of four private citizens will buckle up aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft and take to the skies on a three-day trip around the Earth dubbed Inspiration4.

Live Updates: SpaceX’s Inspiration4 Fully Civilian Private Orbital Mission
Following: Inspiration4: When to watch and what to know

Here are the top 10 things you need to know about the mission.

1) First unprofessional space flight

Inspiration4 crew members Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman and Hayley Arceneaux in front of a fighter jet during mission training. (Image credit: Inspiration4 / John Kraus)

For the first time, a group of four private citizens – and zero professional astronauts – will ascend in EspaceXCrew Dragon spaceship to launch into outer space. This is SpaceX’s fourth crewed mission, but instead of astronauts representing NASA and its international partners, the passengers will be four regular people.

All previous space tourism orbital flights (and such planned missions with advertised crews) have included at least one professional astronaut to guide passengers through the drama of launch, microgravity, and landing.

Related: SpaceX Inspiration4 Private Fully Civilian Orbital Mission: Live Updates

2) Meet the crew

The mission commander is Jared isaacman, a billionaire who founded Shift4 Payments and bought the flight.

He is joined by Hayley Arceneaux, a medical assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she was also a patient. Arceneaux, who will serve as the flight medical officer, is a pediatric bone cancer survivor. She will be the first person to fly into space with a prosthesis, as she has a metal rod in her leg to replace bone removed due to a tumor.

Sian Proctor, the pilot of the mission, is a professor of geosciences at South Mountain Community College in Arizona and a science communicator who dreams of going to space since childhood. Proctor’s father worked for NASA at a tracking station in Guam during the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first humans on the moon. Proctor applied to be a NASA Astronaut for the Class of 2009, but was ultimately not selected. She thought her dreams of going to space would never come true, until she got the call of Inspiration4.

Chris Sembroski is an Air Force veteran who works for aerospace giant Lockheed Martin. He is a former Space Camp advisor and will be a mission specialist for the flight. Sembroski won the seat after donating to St. Jude as part of an Inspiration4 fundraising campaign.

3) Fundraising efforts

Inspiration4 crew members conduct a Zero-G training flight. (Image credit: Inspiration4 / John Kraus)

The Inspiration4 mission is part of an effort to raise $ 200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Isaacman didn’t just want another billionaire space flight in the books, he wanted the mission to really make sense, so he led a campaign to raise funds and raise awareness for childhood cancer research.

Isaacman donated $ 100 million directly to St. Jude, along with two of the other headquarters of the dragon spaceship. One went to Arceneaux, which the hospital selected as a frontline worker. The other seat was awarded to a winner chosen at random from the raffle entries that raised $ 13 million for the cancer institute. Sembroski was selected after a friend of his (who was technically chosen) decided not to go to space.

Proctor won its seat through a “Shark Tank” type competition that set up online stores using Isaacman’s Shift4 payment platform as a means of raising funds for St. Jude. Each participant had to create a store and campaign on Twitter. The more interaction their videos received on Twitter, the more likely they were to qualify for the final.

4) When is it launched?

The Inspiration4 crew in front of a Saturn V rocket on display in Huntsville, Alabama. (Image credit: Inspiration4 / John Kraus)

Inspiration4 faces a 24-hour launch window that opens on September 15 at 8 p.m. EDT (midnight September 16 GMT). Mission staff will reduce this schedule to a five-hour window just days before launch.

The mission can be launched at any time according to representatives of SpaceX and Inspiration4, but the exact take-off time will be chosen mainly based on the weather forecast for the launch and landing sites of the 45th Weather Squadron.

4) Where is the crew going?

The crew will not go to the International space station, but will fly rather freely around the Earth. It’s a different route than the capsule’s previous trip, when it carried astronauts to the orbiting lab.

Without the need for a docking port on the spacecraft, SpaceX replaced this structure with a domed window that will give the crew a breathtaking view of Earth.

6) How long will they stay in space?

crew inspiration4

The Inspiration4 crew at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Image credit: Inspiration4 / John Kraus)

The crew will remain in space for approximately three days before landing off the coast of Florida.

7) What will the crew do?

Because the Inspiration4 mission is made up entirely of ordinary people, not professional astronauts, they have not gone through the same rigorous medical disqualification process that NASA and other agencies go through when selecting astronauts. Thus, throughout the mission, Inspiration4 crew members will perform various medical experiments and record health data to support future human spaceflight.

8) Where do they start from?

The Inspiration4 crew members in front of the Falcon 9 rocket that they will embark in space. (Image credit: Inspiration4 / John Kraus)

Inspiration4 will be launched from Buffer 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is one of two launch pads operated by SpaceX in Florida, and the same that hosted the company’s three previous crew mission launches.

Before being handed over to SpaceX, Pad 39A also supported the majority of NASA’s space shuttle missions, which flew between 1981 and 2011. And it’s also the same launch pad that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins launched as part of the historic Apollo 11 lunar mission that saw Armstrong and Aldrin become the first humans to walk on the moon.

9) How are they going to get into space?

Isaacman, Arceneaux, Proctor, and Sembroski will attach themselves to a Crew Dragon spacecraft perched on top of a Falcon 9 rocket – both of which have previously flown.

The rocket, dubbed B1062, has flown twice before as it carried GPS satellites into space for the US Space Force. The Dragon capsule is the same one that transported the Crew-1 mission – NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi – into space last November and back to Earth. six months later.

10) What will they take with them?

Since Inspiration4 is part of a massive fundraising effort, the crew will be taking items with them to auction, as well as personal items.

Some of these items include mission jackets featuring artwork made by patients from St. Jude, a space pen, and a Fisher Apollo 11 50th Anniversary coin set containing a piece of Apollo 11 gear, a Martin Guitar ukulele that Chris Sembroski will play in space, and more, according to a mission declaration.

Additionally, Arceneaux will play a non-fungible token, or NFT, of a never-before-seen performance by the Kings of Leon group during the flight. Another NFT on board will replicate a work of art that previously traveled to the Mariana Trench, making it the first piece of art to reach both the deepest part of the ocean and orbit. .

Follow Amy Thompson on Twitter @astrogingersnap. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.



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