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SpaceX’s first all-civilian spaceflight crew finalized

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A college science professor and an aerospace data analyst were appointed on Tuesday to complete a four-member crew for a SpaceX launch into orbit scheduled for later this year, billed as the first fully civilian spaceflight in history.

The last two Citizen Astronauts were introduced during a media briefing broadcast live from Kennedy Space Center in Florida by SpaceX Human Spaceflight Chief Benji Reed and billionaire entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, who designed the mission in part as a charity initiative.

Isaacman, founder and CEO of e-commerce company Shift4 Payments, invests an unspecified but presumably exorbitant sum in fellow billionaire and SpaceX owner Elon Musk to get into orbit with three other people aboard a SpaceX capsule. Crew Dragon.

The flight, scheduled for September 15 at the earliest, is expected to last three to four days, from launch to landing.

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“When this mission is completed, people will look at it and say this was the first time ordinary people could go to space,” Isaacman, 38, told reporters.

Dubbed Inspiration4, the mission is primarily designed to raise awareness and support one of Isaacman’s favorite causes, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a leading pediatric cancer center. He pledged $ 100 million (approximately Rs. 735 crore) personally to the institute.

Assuming the role of mission “commander”, Isaacman in February appointed St. Jude’s assistant physician, Haley Arceneaux, 29, a bone cancer survivor and former Tennessee hospital patient, as his first mate.

Announced Tuesday, Chris Sembroski, 41, a Seattle-area aerospace industry employee and US Air Force veteran, was selected in a draw that drew 72,000 applicants and raised $ 113 million. dollars (approximately 830 crore rupees) in donations to Saint-Jude.

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Sian Proctor, 51, professor of geosciences at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Ariz., And entrepreneur who was once a NASA astronaut candidate, was chosen separately in an online business competition hosted by Shift4 Payments .

All four will undergo extensive training based on the model of the program that NASA astronauts use to prepare for SpaceX missions.

The Inspiration4 mission may mark a new era in spaceflight, but it’s not the only fully civilian crewed rocket launch underway.

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British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is developing a space plane to transport paying customers on suborbital excursions.

SpaceX is planning a separate launch, possibly next year, of a retired NASA astronaut, a former Israeli fighter pilot and two others in conjunction with the private Houston-based spaceflight company. , Axiom Space.

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Musk also intends to fly Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa around the moon in 2023. The fees charged for these flights will help fund the development of Musk’s new Starship rocket for moon and Mars missions.

Inspiration4 is more than a billionaire’s spacewalk, say organizers, promising the crew will conduct a number of as yet undetermined science experiments during their brief trip.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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