On Monday, SpaceX, the brainchild of Elon Musk, announced a major space tourism milestone with the first all-civilian mission to space set to take off by the fourth quarter of this year.
Elon Musk’s visionary SpaceX has formally announced its plan 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, founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, a Pennsylvania-based payment processing company. The company said in a press release it’ll pick three people to ride alongside Isaacman to orbit aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule.
In a call with reporters, Musk said, “This is an important milestone towards enabling access to space for everyone,” Musk told reporters on the call, adding that it’s part of SpaceX’s broader goal to “bring the cost down over time and make space accessible to all.” Subsequently, in an interview with NBC News’ Tom Costello on NBC Nightly News on Monday, Musk said “When you’ve got a brand new mode of transportation, you have to have pioneers. Things are expensive at first, and as you’re able to increase the launch rate, increase the production rate, refine the technology, it becomes less expensive and accessible to more people.”
According to the press release, “Three people will be chosen to represent the mission pillars of leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity,” Meanwhile, Isaacman, during another press call yesterday, confirmed that one person had already been selected and that the full crew “will be announced in the weeks ahead.” Isaacman, a trained pilot and the chief executive of Shift4 Payments, said he donated $100 million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and wants to help raise $200 million more by inviting people to donate at least $10 to St. Jude for a chance to get picked.
The mission, named Inspiration4, will launch from SpaceX’s 39A launch site at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. Prior to flight, crew members will 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 up to five days in the acorn-shaped Crew Dragon capsule as it orbits Earth every 90 minutes “along a customized flight path,” SpaceX and the contest’s official rules said. “The mission parameters are up to Jared,” Musk said. The mission could last anywhere from two to four days long, “but if you wanna stay up longer that’s fine too,” he added.