Sunday, September 19, 2021

First private all-civilian orbital spaceflight set for Wednesday

WASHINGTON – Four people are set to become the world’s first all-civilian crew to fly into Earth orbit when they depart NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday as space tourism marks its biggest leap yet.

Weather conditions are 70% favorable for Wednesday night’s scheduled launch of Americans Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arsinaux, Chris Sambrowski and Sean Proctor from the US spaceport’s historic Launch Pad 39A, which was used for the Apollo Moon missions during the 1960s and ’70s. it was done.

The four-member crew will fly into space aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft built by SpaceX, the privately operated company that has begun sending astronauts to the International Space Station. The fully automated Crew Dragon spacecraft will lift the crew to an altitude of 575 kilometers above Earth’s surface, just above the current positions of both the ISS and the Hubble Space Telescope.

SpaceX said the four space tourists “will conduct scientific research to advance human health on Earth and during future long-duration space flights” before falling into the Atlantic Ocean near the Florida coast three days later.

The mission, called Inspiration 4, will be led by Isaacman, 38, a billionaire technology entrepreneur and founder of an online payment-processing company that is said to have paid SpaceX several million dollars for the flight. did. Arsinox, 29, a childhood bone cancer survivor, has a titanium rod in her leg, making her the first person to fly into space with a prosthesis. Sambrowski, 42, is a retired US Air Force ballistic missile maintenance engineer who now works in the aviation industry, while Proctor, 51, is a geoscientist and community college professor who was a NASA astronaut finalist in 2009.

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Sambrowski and Proctor were selected through a nationwide search competition, while Arsinox is flying as a representative for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where she was treated during her battle with cancer and now He works as a physician’s assistant. Isaacman is using the flight to raise $100 million for St. Jude, and has pledged $100 million of his own to the hospital.

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Isaacman’s flight will be much higher than that of fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, who earlier this year took non-orbital flights to the edge of space on their own financed vehicles — Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, respectively.

Some information for this report has been obtained from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France Press.

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First private all-civilian orbital spaceflight set for Wednesday
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