San Francisco, Elon Musk-run SpaceX has announced worlds first all-civilian mission to space at the end of 2021 in a charity-driven mission named Inspiration4, commanded by tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman.
Spearheaded by United States billionaire and Shift4 founder/CEO Jared Isaacman, the venture has been deemed Inspiration4 and is closely linked with the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and charity.
Last week, a Houston company revealed the names of three businessmen who are paying $55 million apiece to fly to the International Space Station next January aboard a SpaceX Dragon.
After the Crew Dragon safely returned Behnken and Hurley to Earth, parachuting them into the Gulf of Mexico two months after their launch, SpaceX began the first of six ISS-rotation missions that NASA contracted from the company. Isaacman, the commander of the flight, will represent a fourth pillar, leadership mission pillar.
Isaacman is also the CEO of Shift4, a payment processing company that says it processed more than $200 billion in payments in 2019 in industries including retail, hospitality and gaming. During the month of February, members of the public can enter for a chance to join the flight to space and support the lifesaving mission of St. Jude. On top of his purchase of a private SpaceX ride to orbit, Isaacman has committed to donate no less than $100 million to the medical non-profit and hopes to raise another ~$200 million by using the extraordinary venture to grab public attention.
The front line worker from St. Jude has already been selected and is a woman. Until then, the crew will receive training on the Falcon 9 launch rocket, Dragon vessel, spacesuit mechanics, emergency preparedness, and more. As a pilot himself, Isaacman broke the world record for circumnavigating the world in 61 hours 51 minutes and 15 seconds in 2009 and has performed in airshows as part of the Black Diamond Jet Team.
During the Crew-1 mission, the space station hosted two visiting Dragon vehicles simultaneously for the first time, when a cargo variant arrived in December bearing supplies and science equipment. "In the lead-up to launch, we'll share new ways to support and follow our mission preparation and execution with a focus on inspiring and helping others".
Isaacman's trip is the latest deal announced for private space travel - and it's No. 1 on the runway for an orbital trip.
The mission will launch from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and "will be carefully monitored at every step by SpaceX mission control".
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. "It will be the first mission to fly two global partner crew members as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program", NASA said in an official release.
Crew-1, SpaceX's first full-fledged crewed flight for NASA, launched in November and includes NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
"We're going to release details in the near future as to the payload and experiments that we hope to bring on board", he said.