The competition between private space exploration companies continues to get hotter. SpaceX will soon launch its first all-civilian mission, named Inspiration-4, aboard the Falcon 9 heavy rockets for a 3-day flight orbiting the Earth.
“Inspiration4 and SpaceX have completed our flight readiness review and remain on track for launch!” the Inspiration team tweeted out on September 3.
The flight will launch from Nasa's Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and will orbit the Earth for 3-days before finally coming back in for a landing.
While Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic sent civilians to space before SpaceX, including their billionaire owners Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson respectively, the Inspiration-4 mission will be a full orbital mission with the astronauts spending three days in space, unlike the flights of Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic which were much shorter.
The mission has been named Inspiration-4, for the four civilians who will become astronauts and raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which focuses on developing and treating deadly diseases in children especially cancer and leukaemia.
The mission will be lead by billionaire and 38-year-old founder and chief executive officer of Shift4 Payments, a secure payment processing service, Jared Isaacman.
"Inspiration4 will leave Earth from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Complex 39A, the embarkation point for Apollo and Space Shuttle missions, and travel across a low earth orbit on a multi-day journey that will continually eclipse more than 90 percent of the earth’s population," read a statement from Inspiration-4.
The crew will be flying aboard the SpaceX designed and built Dragon Spacecraft that has already been used by NASA astronauts to reach the international space station after being propelled by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets. Both the rockets and spacecraft are the only ones in the world currently capable of being reused after launch and re-entry.
During the 3-day long mission, the crew will be collaborating with SpaceX, the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine and researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine on the effects of space travel on the human body.
Data from the crew will be used to study for future crewed missions, that SpaceX has planned further down its list of ambitions. SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s longstanding dream of travelling to and then colonising Mars being one of the possible future crewed missions.
Isaacman, who is in command of the mission said, "The crew of Inspiration4 is eager to use our mission to help make a better future for those who will launch in the years and decades to come."
"We are proud that our flight will help influence all those who will travel after us and look forward to seeing how this mission will help shape the beginning of a new era for space exploration," he added.
Apart from Isaacman, the crew includes Hayley Arceneaux; physician assistant at St. Jude’s and childhood leukaemia survivor, Chris Sembroski; data engineer and US Air Force veteran, and Sian Proctor; science communicator and geology professor. Isaacman will be commanding the mission, having been cleared to fly commercial and military jets and having a world record circumnavigation.
(Edited by : Jomy Jos Pullokaran)