All-Civilian Spaceflight Mission Launches

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Called “the world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight mission to orbit,” Inspiration4 launched successfully from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 8:02:56 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. The three-day orbital flight, which is using SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 launch vehicle, was booked by Shift4 Payments founder and pilot Jared Isaacman earlier this year. As previously reported by AVweb, Isaacman elected to lead the mission and donate the other three seats as part of an effort to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by February 2022.

“Our crew carries the responsibility and importance of this mission as we prepare to blast off,” Isaacman said before the launch. “We have been well-prepared for the challenges ahead of us the next three days and look forward to sharing our experience with the world as we continue to bring attention to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital here on earth.”

Along with Isaacman, Inspiration4 is crewed by physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and pediatric cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux, Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer Chris Sembroski and geoscientist, entrepreneur and pilot Dr. Sian Proctor. In the six months leading up to the launch, the crew underwent centrifuge training, Dragon simulations, observations of launch operations, Zero-G plane training and altitude training along with classroom, simulation and medical testing. The venture has raised more than $130 million to date.

Video: SpaceX

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7 COMMENTS

  1. The best reason to date for these launches, by far. Although each launch yields gains in technology, they are still a “Told y’all we could do it,” which is just a few steps (and a few $mil) above “Hey, watch this – hold my beer” in reality. Even if it is called a publicity stunt, the end result is millions of dollars for one of the finest organizations on this ball of dirt we live on.

  2. Can someone please calculate the greenhouse gas impact of each one of these launches? It’s gotta be astronomical, especially coming from someone supposedly “saving the planet” by selling electric cars. Hypocrisy much? Not to mention the actual impacts. Tour bus rides way out to high earth orbit and back for the “masses” seems dumb to me. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Imho.

    • A few notes:
      SpaceX is working on ways to mitigate the effect of greenhouse gases produced by its launches.
      Check out The Everyday Astronaut on YT for an analysis of the relative amounts of pollution caused by all rocket launches versus other sources.
      Check out Engineering Explained for whether you should trade in your car to save the planet.
      SpaceX isn’t in the space tourism game, though they will certainly take the money, if it can be profitable. At least you get **real** space.
      Of course, you could have found all of that yourself, but I’m guessing you just wanted to puff out your chest a bit. So be it, but Musk is on a different planet than the other players in the private space game. And at some point, the last sentence may become a literal fact.

  3. PS. The dude paid Musk $200 million for the flight and hopes to raise $200 million for charity. Great that he’s raising money for a wonderful cause. But he coulda just written a $200 million check to St Judes and skipped the trip to space. It’s clearly an attempt to quiet the potential critics of two billionaires doing stupid stuff. Imho.

  4. The whole point of this exercise was to demonstrate that no human on-board inputs were necessary to launch and recover the spacecraft. I’m betting my kids will live to see the day when a commercial aircraft (notice I didn’t say airplane) carrying paying passengers does the same thing.