SEP. 15, 2021
SpaceX’s first private space flight took off Wednesday night with two contest winners, a healthcare worker and her wealthy sponsor, in the most ambitious leap yet in space tourism.
It is the first time that a rocket has been directed into orbit with a crew lacking professional astronauts.
The two men and two women aboard the Dragon capsule intend to spend three days circling the world from an unusually high orbit, 160 kilometers (100 miles) higher than that of the International Space Station, and then land in the sea. off the coast of Florida on the weekend.
Leading the flight is 38-year-old Jared Isaacman, who made his fortune with a payment processing company he started in his teens.
The trip represents SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s entry into the competition for space tourism dollars. Isaacman is the third billionaire to launch into space this summer, following the brief flights of Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson and Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos in July.
Along with Isaacman on the trip nicknamed Inspiration4 are Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a survivor of her childhood cancer who works as a medical assistant where she was treated, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Isaacman has promised to donate $ 100 million out of her pocket to the hospital and is trying to raise another $ 100 million in donations.
Also on the ship are Chris Sembroski, 42, a computer engineer from Everett, Washington, and Sian Proctor, 51, a college educator in Tempe, Arizona. Both won their places in draws.
Arceneaux is the youngest American to travel to space and the first person in space with a prosthesis – a titanium bar in her left leg.
The repurposed Falcon rocket was lifted from the same Kennedy Space Center platform used by the company’s three previous flights for NASA, all of which were manned by astronauts. But this time the Dragon capsule is heading at an altitude of 575 kilometers (357 miles), just shy of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Her fully automated capsule has already been in orbit: It was used for SpaceX’s second flight to the Space Station for NASA, also manned by astronauts. The only significant change is the wide dome-shaped window at the top instead of the usual mechanisms for docking with the Space Station.