SpaceX announced Monday that it will orbit four private individuals on a Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed “the world’s first purely civilian mission”. The start is planned for the fourth quarter of 2021.
The company’s starship is commanded by Jared Isaacman, the founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments. The mission, known as Inspiration4, seeks to raise support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Isaacman is donating the mission’s three accompanying seats “to crew members selected to represent the mission pillars of leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity,” SpaceX said in a press release.
“Inspiration4 is making a lifelong dream come true and a step toward a future where everyone can set out and explore the stars. I appreciate the tremendous responsibility that comes with leading this mission, and I want this historic moment use to inspire humanity and at the same time to help fight cancer in children here on earth, “Isaacman said in a statement.
Inspiration Missionary Jared Isaacman
Isaacman has given St. Jude two seats on the mission, one of which is “reserved for a St. Jude ambassador with direct links to the mission”. The third and fourth seat of the crew will be determined through online competitions from February 1st to 28th, which will be listed on the Inspiration4 website. The third seat is open to all who donate to St. Jude, while the fourth seat is open to new and existing customers of Isaacman’s Shift4Shop e-commerce platform.
The Inspiration4 crew is trained under the direction of SpaceX and prepares for launch on one of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets. Elon Musk noted on a call with reporters after the announcement that the duration of the Inspiration4 mission and other parameters were left to Isaacman.
“If you later decide to do a different mission, you totally can,” Musk said. “You can go where you want. But I think we nominally assume it’s two to four days, but if you want to go longer, that’s fine too.”
SpaceX plans to deploy the Crew Dragon spacecraft called Resilience, which is currently docked with the International Space Station after the Crew 1 mission for NASA launched in November. Musk added that NASA has been informed of the Inspiration4 mission “and supports it”.
Musk’s company has announced several private missions in recent years, including a contract with Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to fly the company’s Starship rocket on a trip around the moon in 2023. SpaceX also has space tourism deals with Axiom Space Completed Early next year, fly four people on a 10-day trip to the International Space Station and Space Adventures, which is set to fly four tourists into orbit on a five-day “free-flight” trip by 2022.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk stands at the base of a prototype Starship rocket at the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
Steve Jurvetson on flickr