SpaceX all-civilian flight clears flight readiness review for Kennedy Space Center launch

·3 min read

In less than two weeks, four civilians are looking to blast off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the company’s first civilian flight of its Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The Inspiration4 mission aims to take four passengers on a multiday orbital trip launching from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on Wednesday, Sept. 15. Three days before liftoff, the company will narrow down the launch window to five hours based on weather conditions. There is a backup launch opportunity on Sept. 16.

The crew includes mission commander Jared Isaacman, pilot Dr. Sian Proctor, medical officer Hayley Arceneaux and mission specialist Chris Sembroski. who will arrive in Florida on Sept. 9.

Isaacman, head of Shift4 Payments, a credit card processing company, paid SpaceX an undisclosed sum to command the four-person crew while the three other passengers won their seats as part of the mission’s altruistic goal of raising funds for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

The crew will get a special view from the Crew Dragon Resilience, which first flew with passengers as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program in November 2020 and spent more than six months attached to the International Space Station. SpaceX plans to refurbish and reuse Resilience for the upcoming Crew-3 mission to the ISS as early as Oct. 31. The other working Dragon capsule, Endeavour, is currently attached to the space station.

Since Inspiration4 isn’t connecting up to anything during its flight, the space where it would normally dock has been replaced with a cupola that will allow for better views while in orbit.

The mission is slated to last three days and reach an altitude of 335 miles before returning to a yet-to-be-determined splashdown site off the coast of Florida either in the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico.

SpaceX teams performed the flight readiness review on Thursday to evaluate the Falcon 9 rocket, Dragon spacecraft, ground systems, crew training and other check boxes for the planned launch.

The crew has been training since March 2021 performing simulations for Dragon and trying out weightlessness with Zero-G flights among other preparations. They spent time at Kennedy Space Center this past week to check out the hardware that will take them to space.

“Dragon is stacked on trunk and looking sexy,” Isaacman said in a tweet Monday during the crew’s Dragon test drive, in which they strapped into the spacecraft complete with flight spacesuits.

SpaceX offers future civilian flights at undisclosed costs for trips to low-Earth orbit, the International Space Station, lunar orbit and Mars, the latter of which will be reliant on the successful development of Starship.

The first civilian flight to the moon by SpaceX is also already in the works, aiming for a 2023 flight. Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa has bought all the seats on the Starship flight, which will be a week-long trip to the moon and back. The mission has been dubbed dearMoon, and Maezawa opened up a contest to take along eight passengers.

More details on the mission and crew can be found at inspiration4.com.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting