Breaking News
0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your Investing.com experience. Save up to 40% More details

SpaceX prepares to send first all-civilian crew into orbit

Stock MarketsSep 12, 2021 09:55PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: With a view of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building at left, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soars upward from Launch Complex 39A carrying the company’s Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule and four Crew-2 astronauts towards the International Space Statio

(Refiles to drop redundant word "but" in paragraph 5)

By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) -Yet another billionaire entrepreneur is set to ride into space this week, strapped inside the capsule of a SpaceX rocketship as part of an astro-tourist team poised to make history as the first all-civilian crew launched into Earth orbit.

Jared Isaacman, the American founder and chief executive of e-commerce firm Shift4 Payments, will lead three fellow spaceflight novices on a three-day trip from blastoff at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to splashdown in the Atlantic.

The 38-year-old tech mogul has plunked down an unspecified but presumably exorbitant sum for fellow billionaire and SpaceX owner Elon Musk to fly Isaacman and three specially selected travel mates into orbit aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

The crew vehicle, dubbed Resilience, was set for liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center atop one of Musk's reusable Falcon 9 rockets, with a five-hour targeted launch window that opens at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT) on Wednesday.

Forecasts on Sunday predicted a 70% chance of favorable weather conditions for launch, organizers said, on a flight directed entirely from the ground.

A successful flight could spawn a new era of commercial space tourism, with several firms vying for wealthy customers to pay a small fortune to experience the exhilaration of supersonic travel, weightlessness and the visual spectacle of space.

Setting acceptable levels of consumer risk in the inherently dangerous endeavor of rocket travel is also key, and raises a pointed question.

"Do you have to be both rich and brave to get on these flights right now?" Sridhar Tayur, a professor of operations management and new business models at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, asked in an interview with Reuters on Friday.

The so-called Inspiration4 mission was conceived by Isaacman mainly to raise awareness and support for one of his favorite causes, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a leading pediatric cancer center.

He has pledged $100 million personally to the institute.

BEYOND THE BILLIONAIRE SPACE RACE

SpaceX is easily the most well-established player in the burgeoning constellation of commercial rocket ventures, having already launched numerous cargo payloads and astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA.

Rival companies Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin both recently celebrated their debut astro-tourism missions with their respective founding executives, billionaires Richard Branson https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science/virgin-galactics-branson-ready-space-launch-aboard-rocket-plane-2021-07-11 and Jeff Bezos https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-exploration-blueorigin-idAFKBN2EQ0EP, each going along for the ride.

But those two high-profile flights were suborbital in scale, sending their crews of citizen astronauts to space and back in a matter of minutes.

The SpaceX flight is designed to carry its four passengers where no all-civilian crew has gone before, into Earth orbit.

There, they will circle the globe once every 90 minutes at more than 17,000 mph (27,360 kph), or roughly 22 times the speed of sound. The target altitude is 575 kilometers, or nearly 360 miles, beyond the orbits of the International Space Station or even the Hubble Space Telescope.

Like Blue Origin, the 20-story-tall SpaceX launch vehicle and crew capsule will take off vertically from a launch pad on a flight directed entirely from the ground.

Branson's suborbital rocket plane, by contrast, had two highly trained pilots at the controls as it carried its four rear-seat passengers 50 miles (81 km) high.

The Inspiration4 crew will have no part to play in operating their spacecraft, despite some largely honorary titles, though two, Isaacman and geoscientist Sian Proctor, are licensed pilots.

Isaacman, who is rated to fly commercial and military jets, has assumed the role of mission "commander," while Proctor, 51, once a NASA astronaut candidate herself, has been designated as the mission "pilot."

She was selected to join the team through an online contest run by Shift4 Payments.

Rounding out the crew are "chief medical officer" Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a bone cancer survivor turned St. Jude physicians' assistant, and mission "specialist" Chris Sembroski, 42, a U.S. Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer.

Sembroski won a seat in a sweepstake that drew 72,000 applicants and has raised more than $100 million in St. Jude donations.

The four crewmates have spent five months making rigorous preparations, including altitude fitness, centrifuge (G-force), microgravity and simulator training, emergency drills, classroom work and medical exams.

SpaceX and the crew planned a full dress-rehearsal of launch-day activities at the Cape on Sunday night, to be followed by a final "static" test firing of the rocket's engines, organizers said.

Inspiration4 officials stress that the mission is more than a joyride.

Once in orbit, the crew will perform medical experiments with "potential applications for human health on Earth and during future spaceflights," the group said in media materials.

Appearing in a promotional clip for a Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) documentary series on the mission, Arceneaux said a big part of her motivation was to kindle hope in her cancer patients.

"I'm getting to show them what life can look like after cancer," she said.

SpaceX prepares to send first all-civilian crew into orbit
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (2)
Dominic Mazoch
Dominic Mazoch Sep 12, 2021 9:54PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
How about a 100% sales tax?
Me comment
Me comment Sep 12, 2021 4:14PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
It may go up like a roman candle or come down like a lead brick.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email