Billionaire Jared Isaacman is raffling off a seat on a SpaceX flight to benefit childhood cancer research

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jared isaacman spacex crew dragon
Jared Isaacman at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California. SpaceX/Business Wire via AP Photo

Snagging a seat on a spaceship as a private citizen usually requires millions of dollars and friends in high places. But billionaire Jared Isaacman is shifting the formula with a philanthropic bent.

Isaacman, who founded a secure payments company called Shift4, is chartering a four-seat SpaceX flight on its Crew Dragon ship this year. The mission, called Inspiration4, will be the first to launch a crew consisting solely of first-time civilian astronauts into space.

One of the four seats is being put up in a raffle to benefit childhood cancer research at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The other three seats will hold Isaacman, a health care worker from St. Jude, and a Shift4Payments customer selected via a competition.

Isaacman is hoping to raise $200 million for the hospital which treats childhood cancer patients at no cost. He's also committed to donating $100 million from his own pocket, St. Jude said.

The fundraising effort and raffle is being hosted through a third-party site called Prizeo. Donations start at $10, which translates to 100 entries. A donation of $100,000 gets 10,000 entries, and includes perks like an "aerobatic flight in a MiG-29 and authentic flight suit with I4 mission patches," and two tickets to a launch event. The sweepstakes will also be publicized via a Superbowl advertisement.

As of Tuesday morning, the second day of fundraising, the initiative had raised $378,349.

St. Jude said in a news release that "the mission into space is very much tied to its mission on Earth - advancing cures and means of prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment."

The winners of the raffle must pass the standard physical and psychological tests required for space flight. The trip will take off no earlier than October 2021 and is scheduled to last two to four days.

On a conference call with reporters Monday, Isaacman said that the flight will include "some experiments" for St. Jude and other research facilities, but did not specify exactly what these experiments would look like or accomplish.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, said the mission would be an avenue towards "enabling access to space for everyone," Insider reported. Indeed, many non-governmental space flights come with a hefty price tag. In January, Insider reported on the first private crew to travel to the International Space Station, through space flight company Axiom. The price of admission was $55 million.

This week is crucial for SpaceX. The company was ready to test one of its Starship prototypes, called Starship serial No. 9, or SN9, last week - at least until the FAA stopped the launch due to a reported launch license violation. The aerospace company hopes to give it another try this week, as the FAA recently approved a modification to SpaceX's launch license, the agency told Insider on Tuesday.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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