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SpaceX Inspiration4 mission: Four 'amateur astronauts' prepare for launch

bbc.co.uk

Sep 15, 2021

SpaceX will launch the world's first ever all-civilian mission into orbit on Wednesday, weather permitting.

The four "amateur astronauts" will blast off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 8:02pm local time (1:02am in the UK).

The trip has been paid for by US billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman, who is one of the four person crew travelling to space. Jared Isaacman dropped out of school aged 16 and started a business in his parents' basement that eventually became Shift4, a credit card payment company.

The billionaire, who is also a pilot, said: "I truly want us to live in a world 50 or 100 years from now where people are jumping in their rockets and there are families bouncing around on the moon with their kid in a spacesuit." The mission comes after Sir Richard Branson's flight aboard his Virgin Galactic rocket plane on 11 July, and fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin trip to space nine days later.

By international standards Virgin Galactic's mission did not actually go into space and the Blue Origin's mission only made it into space by a few miles.

But this mission, named Inspiration4, is different.

A SpaceX craft carrying the crew will go into orbit, circling the Earth for three days. It's 60 years since Soviet Union cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space, since then fewer than 600 people have followed in his footsteps.

Most of those have been astronauts or cosmonauts who are military-trained and flying on government-funded missions.

"When this mission is complete, people are going to look at it and say, 'It was the first time everyday people could go to space'," Jared Isaacman said.

A healthcare worker, a science educator and a data analyst will join Isaacman on the flight. The group will spend their time doing experiments and looking at Earth through a large domed window.

The billionaire is using the trip to raise $200m (£146m) for St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Tennessee in the US and says the donation to St Jude's "vastly exceeds the cost of the mission".