SpaceX set to make history with first fully civilian crew to launch into orbit – .

SpaceX set to make history with first fully civilian crew to launch into orbit – .

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The latest in a recent line of space-obsessed billionaires was set to take off on Wednesday, with three less wealthy private citizens aboard a SpaceX rocket, seeking to become the first all-civilian crew to launch into Earth orbit.

The quartet of amateur space travelers – led by US founder and CEO of e-commerce company Shift4 Payments Inc, Jared Isaacman – were scheduled to take off at 8 p.m. ET from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Live stream the event starting at 7 p.m. ET.

SpaceX’s senior director of human spaceflight, Benji Reed, told reporters in Cape Town on Tuesday that “everything looks fine” after a final “static” rocket engine firing test Monday morning.

“Right now the weather is going well” for an on-time launch, he said.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sits on Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39-A Wednesday in Cape Canaveral, Florida. For the first time in 60 years of manned space flight, a rocket is ready to go into orbit without professional astronauts on board, just four tourists. (Chris O’Meara/The Associated Press)

The flight, without professional astronauts accompanying paying SpaceX customers, is expected to last about three days, from takeoff to landing in the Atlantic.

The group will fly aboard a shiny white SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed Resilience, perched atop one of the company’s reusable Falcon 9 rockets and fitted with a special observation dome in place of the hatch. usual mooring.

Isaacman, 38, the travel benefactor, paid an undisclosed – but presumably hefty – sum to billionaire and SpaceX owner Elon Musk to send himself and his three teammates up in the air. Time magazine put the ticket price for the four seats at $ 200 million.

The Inspiration4 mission was designed by Isaacman primarily to raise awareness and support one of his favorite causes, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a major pediatric cancer center in Memphis, Tenn.

This is the first flight for Musk’s new orbital tourism company and a leap forward from its competitors also offering rocket rides to affluent customers willing to pay a small fortune for the exhilaration. and the bragging rights of space flight.

Inspiration4 targets an orbital altitude of 575 kilometers above Earth, higher than the International Space Station or the Hubble Space Telescope. At this height, the Crew Dragon will circle the globe every 90 minutes at a speed of about 27,360 km / h, or about 22 times the speed of sound.

Why it’s a bigger deal than Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin flights

Rival companies Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin launched their own private astronaut services this summer, with their respective founding executives, billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos each.

WATCH | The stakes, the benefits and the cost of the billionaire space race:


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