Another billionaire has made a commercial trip to space, but this one included for the first time all civilian passengers.
“Few have come before, and many are about to follow,” Inspiration4 Commander and billionaire Jared Isaacman said from inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft. “The door is now open, and it’s pretty incredible.”
“The all-civilian Inspiration4 astronauts are paving the way for a future where space is more accessible to all who wish to go, and we are so proud that they entrusted us to fly them,” SpaceX president and COO, Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement emailed to Space.com.
Isaacman purchased the flight for an undisclosed amount of money. He said he would use the passengers in the three other seats to raise money to fight childhood cancer.
The Space.com website reported on the crew and the mission:
The first seat he said would go to a frontline worker. That lucky person is Hayley Arceneaux, who is not only a cancer survivor and former patient at St. Jude, but she is also a physician’s assistant working for the organization that saved her life. She is the youngest American to fly in space and the first to do so with a prosthesis. (She has a metal rod in her leg following surgery).
The second seat was part of an auction that raised $13 million alone for St. Jude. Featured in a 30-second ad that aired during the Superbowl this year, the winner of this seat was drawn from a pool of donors. That winner ended up being Chris Sembroski, though he didn’t technically win, one of his friends did and they gave the seat to him.
The final seat was up for grabs as part of a shark tank-like contest, where entrepreneurs across the country could make a shop that would bring in donations for St. Jude. Contestants would submit videos promoting their shops, and one winner would be chosen to fly on the mission. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist and professor at Southern Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona was ultimately selected as the winner for her efforts to sell her art and poetry.
Space.com reported the crew went through an intense training program that included many hours in a Dragon simulator, survival training on Mount Rainier, and multiple flights in fighter jets.
Last day of training with my amazing crew. We have loved our time at SpaceX SO much and are forever grateful to the incredible team making our flight possible Ὠ❤️ pic.twitter.com/skLm09eiid
— Hayley Arceneaux (@ArceneauxHayley) September 9, 2021
The crew also trained to conduct scientific and medical experiments while they are in space. Ultrasounds and other medical exams such as monitoring blood oxygen levels as well as pulse and heart rate will be documented, which will help expand knowledge about how microgravity affects the human body.
The data will be shared with researchers at the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.
The Crew Dragon was slightly modified for the benefit of this civilian crew: A giant glass dome at the tip of the spacecraft was put in place so they can get a panoramic view during their three-day trip circling the globe.
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