SpaceX announces first ‘all-civilian’ mission to space

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is planning to send its first “all-civilian” crew to space at the end of 2021 in a charity-focused mission commanded by tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman. The company said in a press release it’ll pick three people to ride alongside Isaacman to orbit aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule.

Isaacman, a trained pilot and the chief executive of Shift4 Payments, donated $100 million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, he said in a press release. He also plans to donate the other three Crew Dragon seats for the trip to people “who will be selected to represent the mission pillars of leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity.” SpaceX in a separate statement said the seats will go “to individuals from the general public who will be announced in the weeks ahead.”

The mission, named Inspiration4, will launch from SpaceX’s 39A launch site stationed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew will launch atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and get special training from SpaceX, with “a specific focus on orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, zero gravity, and other forms of stress testing.”

The four-person crew will spend a few days in acorn-shaped Crew Dragon capsule as it orbits Earth every 90 minutes “along a customized flight path,” SpaceX said.

SpaceX has launched two crews to space already, but those were with trained NASA astronauts — including one astronaut from Japan’s space agency — on government-funded trips to the International Space Station. The Inspiration4 mission marks SpaceX’s second fully private mission to be announced. The company’s upcoming Ax-1 mission hosts a crew of four private astronauts paying $55 million each for an eight-day trip to the ISS.


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