SpaceX Announces Civilian Spaceflight, Potentially by Year End

The crew, named Inspiration4, will be receiving astronaut training on the Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon spacecraft.

2 min read
Elon Musk.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Monday, 1 February, announced that it is ready to fly a crew of civilians into orbit around Earth in a multi-day mission organised to raise funds for St Jude Children's Research Hospital as early as end of the year, The Washington Post reported.

The company, founded in 2002 by Musk, aims to make space more accessible and took a flight with two crews of NASA astronauts and an astronaut from Japan last year to the International Space Station.

Early next year, it plans to fly a crew of four private citizens to the International Space Station.

SpaceX’s civilian flight, which will orbit Earth every 90 minutes, would mark another milestone in the privatisation of spaceflight. The human spaceflight is being funded by the 37-year-old founder and chief executive of Shift4 Payments Jared Isaacman, The Washington Post added. An accomplished pilot who flies commercial and military aircraft, he is going to command the mission and will be donating two seats in the spacecraft to St Jude.

According to the report, one of the seats is going to be a health-care worker at the hospital, while the other would be raffled off t to raise at least $200 million for St Jude.

The fourth seat will be determined by a competition, which begins this month, among Isaac’s platform’s users. His company plans to air an ad during Sunday's Super Bowl to shed light on the mission and the opportunity it presents, the report added.

The flight is going to take-off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. However, NASA is not directly involved in organising the journey. Musk expressed, "NASA has been briefed on this and has been supportive.”

The crew, named Inspiration4, will be receiving astronaut training on the Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon spacecraft, SpaceX informed. This is for training the civilians for emergency situations and mission simulations.

According to Musk, the mission could last between two to four days. SpaceX also informed that the flight "will be carefully monitored at every step by SpaceX mission control" and will terminate in a splashdown off the coast of Florida, The Washington Post reported.

A Houston-base company Axiom Space has also bought a flight on SpaceX's vehicle to fly a civilian crew, consisting of wealthy business executives, for a mission in as early as January next year. It is to be commanded by Axiom Space’s VP Michael Lopez-Alegria.

According to a report in The Washington Post, the three travellers are paying $55 million for the journey to space, the required training and costs of staying aboard the space station for up to eight days.

(With inputs from The Washington Post)

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