Elon Musk's SpaceX announces first all-civilian mission for late-2021 launch
SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk in 2002 to make space flight more accessible. On Monday, the company announced it will fly an all-civilian crew into orbit around Earth aboard its Crew Dragon capsule later this year. For the unversed, SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft was created under NASA's Commercial Crew program. The 'Inspiration4' multi-day mission will raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Shift4 Payments founder Jared Isaacman will pilot Inspiration4
Monday's announcement marks another milestone in the privatization of human spaceflight. Interestingly, Inspiration4 will be funded by Jared Isaacman. The 37-year-old is the founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments. Forbes estimates his net worth at $2 billion. Jared is an accomplished pilot of commercial and military aircraft. He will command the mission while also donating two seats on the flight to St. Jude.
One healthcare professional from the hospital will fly to space
One of the seats was donated to an unnamed female healthcare professional from St. Jude. Another seat will be raffled to US citizens to raise at least $200 million for the hospital. Further, Isaacman is donating $100 million to St. Jude. In a call with reporters, he said the amount of funds raised and the good it will do far exceed the mission's cost.
Flight path undefined; Fourth passenger to be chosen from competition
The four-day mission will orbit Earth every 90 minutes. Musk said the flight parameters have not been defined yet. Meanwhile, the fourth passenger on Inspiration4 will be determined by a competition on Jared's e-commerce platform Shift4Shop. Contestants would need to launch an online store on Shift4Shop and tweet a video about their "entrepreneurial story". A panel of celebrity judges will pick the winner.
Super Bowl could attract contestants, training starts in 30 days
Shift4Shop plans to advertise the opportunity, the mission, and the cause it supports during Sunday's Super Bowl. Notably, Jared has told reporters that all crew members could begin training at SpaceX facilities within 30 days. SpaceX's plan shows space travel could be a lucrative investment. Inspiration4 will launch before Axiom Space's Ax-1, the first civilian mission to the International Space Station.