SpaceX to launch its first private-citizen crew
The Future. Tonight, the first ever completely private mission to space will launch with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule. The mission, named Inspiration 4, is the brainchild of billionaire Jared Isaacman. If it’s successful, it’ll prove that NASA’s gambit to jumpstart the commercial space market is off to a strong start. All that’s needed now is for the price of rocket construction and space travel to drop so people can actually afford it.
To the stars, for the children
Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy a trip to space.
- The first ever all-private mission will be commanded by trained pilot and billionaire founder of payment processing company Shift4, Jared Isaacman.
- He paid for three people to fly with him: geology professor Sian Proctor, Lockheed Martin data engineer Christopher Sembroski, and physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux (a cancer survivor).
- The mission, dubbed Inspiration 4, will launch tonight at 8:02pm ET, and will last three days.
Inspiration 4 is doubling as a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research center and hospital St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Isaacman has already donated $100 million of a stated $200 million goal. Several items from brands such as Samuel Adams and Martin Guitar are also joining the four travelers into space, and will be auctioned off when they return to Earth.
The good seats
The crew has been preparing for the mission for seven months, training to handle the immense G-forces during flight and testing out what it feels like to float in zero gravity. If successful, the mission will be a huge boon to NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which was created to help break the ice on a commercial spaceflight market. The agency gave SpaceX about $3 billion to get up and running, and Inspiration 4 is the first mission to show for it.
While Inspiration 4 will (hopefully) prove that commercial space flight is now in reach, the price tag to get on one of these missions is still astronomical. It costs an estimated $55 million for a seat on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and $90 million for one on the company’s upcoming Starliner. For those on a budget, Virgin Galactic’s jaunt just outside the atmosphere will only cost $450K a pop — just enough for the poor millionaires.
Joking aside, those prices will slowly, but surely, go down… as long as we keep trying to democratize the stars.