US Billionaire Buys SpaceX Flight To Orbit With 3 Others

NASA           NASA spacewalker Michael Hopkins

SpaceX and financial company Shift4 have announced what could become the world's first private orbital astronaut launch into orbit - and two of Crew Dragon's four seats are up for grabs in a public raffle for charity.

SpaceX, the company started by Elon Musk, said Isaacman is "donating the three seats alongside individuals from the general public who will be announced in the weeks ahead". Three businessmen are paying 55 million dollars (£40 million) each to fly to the International Space Station next January aboard a SpaceX Dragon, and a Japanese businessman has a deal with SpaceX to fly to the moon in a few years.

After the mission, the spacecraft will reenter the atmosphere for a water landing off the Florida coast.

The flight is "a step towards a future in which anyone can venture out and explore the stars", Isaacman said in the statement.

The first seat is reserved for a St. Jude ambassador with direct ties to the mission who exemplifies the pillar of Hope as well as the courageous vision upon which St. Jude was founded - compassion, unity, equality and inclusion.

A St. Jude health care worker has already been selected and anyone donating to the hospital during February will be entered into a random draw for seat number three, and the fourth will go to a business owner who uses Shift4 Payments.

A third will be picked by a panel of judges from entrepreneurs who use an ecommerce tool from Isaacman's company, Shift4 Payments. An accomplished pilot rated to fly commercial and military aircraft, Isaacman holds several world records including a Speed- Around-The-World flight to raise money and awareness for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Prior to the flight, the crew will complete commercial astronaut training conducted by SpaceX, including emergency preparedness training, spacesuit exercises, and both partial and full mission simulations.

Although this is not the first time civilians have traveled to space, it is the first mission completely manned by average people and it is the latest private space travel announcement.

The mission will launch from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and "will be carefully monitored at every step by SpaceX mission control". "In the lead-up to launch, we'll share new ways to support and follow our mission preparation and execution with a focus on inspiring and helping others".

Crew-2's arrival at the space station is expected to overlap with the astronauts that flew to the station as part of the agency's SpaceX Crew-1 mission. The crew and mission will carry the goal of raising upwards of $200 million to expand St. Jude's childhood cancer research. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will deploy the Crew Dragon spacecraft into low Earth orbit.

Also on board the spacecraft will be a set of microgravity experiments, with details to be announced at a later date. Named Inspiration4, the multi-day orbital flight is now being planned for the fourth quarter of 2021. In 2020, Axiom Space revealed that it had purchased a Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 launch to send the world's first fully private mission to the International Space Station (ISS).



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