On Wednesday night, four civilians will board a SpaceX spacecraft in the world's first all-civilian human spaceflight to orbit.
The historic launch of the Inspiration4 mission will take place on the company's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft within a five-hour window on Wednesday, starting at 8:02 p.m. EDT, according to the company. The spaceship will take off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and orbit the Earth for three days before splashing back down off the Florida coast.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule sit on launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
On board are four civilians, helmed by Jared Isaacman, a billionaire who founded Shift4, which provides payment processes services, according to The New York Times. Joining Isaacman are Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a physician assistant at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (who happens to be a pediatric cancer survivor), Chris Sembroski, 42, an Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer, and Dr. Sian Proctor, 51, a geoscientist and trained pilot.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 13, 2021
During the flight, which will travel to a climax of about 575 kilometers, the group will look to fundraise for St. Jude with the goal of raising $200 million.
"From the start of this mission, we've been very aware of how lucky we are and how fortunate we are to be part of this history that SpaceX is creating and this road that we're traveling on right now," Isaacman said in a video on Twitter ahead of the launch. "We set out from the start to deliver a very inspiring message — certainly what can be done up in space and the possibilities there — but also what we can accomplish here on Earth to assemble a very inspiring crew who all have so many amazing qualities and contributing so many interesting firsts to this mission has been accomplished."
This may be the company's first all-civilian human spaceflight, but it isn't SpaceX's first foray into space. In 2020, SpaceX became the first commercial space company to fly astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and in April, the company sent up its third crewed mission.
When it comes to civilians in space, SpaceX is not the first to venture there. On July 11, Sir Richard Branson became the first billionaire to fly on his own spacecraft, Virgin Galactic's Unity 22, into space. Before the launch, he was joined by SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
On July 20, Branson was followed by Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos, who flew on his company Blue Origin's first human flight, a successful 10-minute mission to space.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.