In trying to keep up with competitor Virgin Galactic in what is becoming the burgeoning space tourism industry, SpaceX has now announced its first all-civilian mission to space.
The mission is going to be held on SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft and will feature a 4 person crew that will be headed up by founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, Jared Isaacman. Isaacman is a trained pilot who has flown both commercial and military aircraft.
The flight will launch in Q4 of this year, according to NBC.
Isaacman's mission will mark the first time a crew made up of only civilians and private citizens will venture into space. SpaceX is going to be responsible for their training, mission simulations and emergency preparedness.
The mission is called "Inspiration 4" and Isaacman calls it “the realization of a lifelong dream and a step towards a future in which anyone can venture out and explore the stars.”
The report notes that Isaacman did not disclose how much he paid for the flight, but did say that it was for a good cause:
The expedition is part of a charity initiative to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In addition to giving $100 million to St. Jude, Isaacman said he is donating the three other seats in the Dragon spacecraft to crewmembers who will be specially selected for the humanitarian flight.
One spot on the flight is reserved for a St. Jude ambassador, while a second seat will be offered to a member of the public as part of a charity drive during the month of February.
“I appreciate this tremendous responsibility that comes with commanding this mission and I want to use this historic moment to inspire humanity while helping to end childhood cancer here on Earth,” Isaacman commented.
The plan is for the Inspiration4 mission to travel into orbit on SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where SpaceX has launched since 2017.
The capsule will then circle Earth once every 90 minutes along a custom flight path. After the expedition, the flight will return to Earth and land off the coast of Florida.