Four people, who are not professional astronauts, are scheduled to blast off into space Wednesday night aboard a SpaceX capsule.
Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Jared Isakman booked the Crew Dragon capsule last year and picked three regular people to ride it with him. It is the first completely private mission to orbit.
Like many recent flights into space these days, the mission named Inspiration 4 She tries to convince viewers from Earth that space will not always be exclusive to government officials and the wealthy.
The Inspiration 4 crew is scheduled to launch on Wednesday via a Falcon 9 rocket. The crew is inside the same Crew Dragon capsule that sent a four-person crew of government astronauts to the International Space Station nearly a year ago.
The destination of this mission is located at an altitude of about 128 km from the International Space Station. They see Earth in orbit through two windows and a new glass dome added to the top of the capsule.
The crew re-enters the atmosphere three days later, depending on the weather around Florida, and lands in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX’s recovery teams will likely meet the capsule, lift it onto a ship, extract the crew, and bring them ashore.
The crew had been training since March, about seven months before takeoff. This includes centrifugal training to get used to the massive G-forces of a rocket launch, microgravity experience on a zero-gravity flight, and weeks of on-premises training to familiarize passengers with the Crew Dragon capsule.
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SpaceX is moving into space tourism this week
If all goes as planned, Inspiration 4 marks the first all-private mission for SpaceX, which developed the Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
This program funded the development of two competing space capsules – Boeing’s Crew Dragon and Starliner – to serve as the vehicles for NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.
For the Commercial Crew Program, NASA is a customer, not an owner of the spacecraft. The primary goal behind the program was to help stimulate the market for commercial spaceflight.
The program gave SpaceX nearly $3 billion and Boeing about $5 billion to help get started.
Mission Inspiration 4 is the fourth manned flight for the Crew Dragon team. But it remains to be seen if private space tourism may be available to a larger group of passengers.
A seat in Crew Dragon costs about $55 million, and a seat on Starliner costs about $90 million.
The space tourism industry is going through a phase backed by billionaire supporters. Getting out of this phase requires a sharp reduction in the cost of building and launching missiles.
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