Written by Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – A college science professor and a space data researcher were named Tuesday to orbit a crew of four for a SpaceX launch into orbit scheduled for later this year, making it the first all-civil space mission in history.
The two most recent Citizen astronauts were unveiled at a news conference live from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida by SpaceX human spaceflight leader Benji Reid and billionaire entrepreneur Jared Isaacman.
Isaacman, founder and CEO of e-commerce company Shift4Payments, has offered fellow billionaire and SpaceX owner Elon Musk an unspecified but implicit amount to fly aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
The flight, which was not scheduled before September 15, is expected to last three to four days from launch site to splashdown.
“Once this mission is complete, it’s the first time people have seen it and everyday people go into space,” Isaacman, 38, told reporters.
This work, called Inspiration 4, is primarily designed to raise awareness and support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a leading pediatric cancer center, one of Isaacman’s favorite causes. He has personally pledged $ 100 million to the company.
Isaacman, who accepted the role of mission “commander”, was hired in February by St. Jude’s assistant Haley Arkinex, 29, a bone cancer survivor and once a patient at a Tennessee – based hospital.
It was announced Tuesday that Seattle Area Aerospace staffer and U.S. Air Force veteran Chris Chembroski has attracted 72,000 applicants through a sweepstakes of 41,000 and raised $ 113 million in St. Jude donations.
Sean Proctor, 51, an entrepreneur and former NASA astronaut at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona, was selected individually through an online business competition run by Shift 4 Payments.
All four will undergo extensive training after the NASA Astronauts Curriculum to prepare for SpaceX missions.
The Inspiration 4 mission may mark a new era in space travel, but it is not just rocket launching for all citizens.
The Virgin Galactic Company of British billionaire Richard Branson is developing a spaceship to pay subscribers on excursions.
SpaceX plans to launch a separate launch of NASA astronaut, former Israeli fighter pilot and two others in partnership with Houston-based private space travel company Axiom Space.
Musk wants Japanese billionaire Yusaku Meizawa to fly around the moon in 2023. The fares charged for those flights will help fund Musk’s development of a new, heavy-lifting starship rocket to travel to the moon and Mars.
Inspiration 4 is in the Joyride space of a billionaire, the organizers say, and the team will conduct a number of yet-to-be-determined scientific experiments during its brief journey.
(Report by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Karisma Singh)