Inspiration4 the world’s first all-civilian spaceflight lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
At 8:02:56 PM EDT on September 15, the crew of Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight mission to orbit, formally ushered in a new age of space exploration as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s iconic Launch Complex 39A.
Inspiration4 is the world’s first all-citizen orbital expedition. Jared Isaacman, the 38-year-old founder and Chief Executive Officer of Shift4 Payments and a seasoned pilot and explorer, will lead the trip. It will travel through low earth orbit on a multi-day voyage that will continuously eclipse over 90% of the world’s population.
The crew will use SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft that can transport up to seven people to and from Earth orbit and beyond. It is currently the only spacecraft capable of returning considerable amounts of goods to Earth, as well as the first private spacecraft to transport humans to the International Space Station.
The rocket is SpaceX’s Falcon 9, a reusable, two-stage rocket developed and built for the safe and reliable transportation of people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond. The Falcon 9 is the world’s first reusable orbital rocket. Reusability allows SpaceX to re-fly the rocket’s most expensive components, lowering the cost of access to space.
The crew will undertake experiments meant to expand our knowledge of the universe while traveling weightless at approximately 17,000 miles per hour. The 365lbs payload capacity of the Crew Dragon will be used for both crew necessities and scientific equipment dedicated to microgravity study and testing. Inspiration4 is committed to allocating the greatest amount of resources to this important research, allowing inspiring ideas to gain access to space that would otherwise be unable to overcome the significant barriers to traditional space-based research.
“Our crew carries the responsibility and importance of this mission as we prepare to blast off,” said Inspiration4 Commander Jared Isaacman just before launch. “We have been well-prepared for the challenges ahead of us the next three days and look forward to sharing our experience with the world as we continue to bring attention to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® here on earth.”
The Inspiration4 crew has spent the past six months completing a variety of training activities, including centrifuge training, Dragon simulations, observations of other launch operations, Zero-G plane training, altitude training, and additional classroom, simulation, and medical testing since the mission was announced in March 2021. This intense, targeted training was critical in assisting four strangers in adjusting to their new duties as the first all-civilian astronaut crew to orbit the Earth.
The crew’s mission has been to not only fly to space but also to make a significant contribution to the fight against children cancer on Earth. Inspiration4, which began with a $100 million gift from Isaacman to St. Jude, has a fundraising target of $200 million by February 2022 to aid expedite research advances and rescue more children around the world. With additional auction goods and opportunities to support being shared throughout and after the trip, the project has received a commitment of more than $130 million to date. Click here to learn more about how you can help.
“We are thankful to Jared for his incredible leadership as the commander of the historic mission and for his work helping to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “The significance of Inspiration4 cannot be overstated. The mission ushers in a new era in citizen space travel and gives hope to children. Cancer is diagnosed each year in about 400,000 children worldwide. Curing catastrophic diseases in children is a multi-trillion-dollar, multi-year problem and the public’s support – through initiatives like Inspiration4 – makes it possible for us to raise the critical funds needed to help save children everywhere.”
The Inspiration4 mission is a watershed moment in human space exploration. Since the final Hubble mission on STS-125 in 2009, they will be the first all-civilian crew to orbit Earth, the first free-flight Crew Dragon mission, and the first orbital human spaceflight mission that will not dock with a space station. As the spacecraft circled the globe every 90 minutes along a tailored flight path, SpaceX mission control is keeping a close eye on Inspiration4. The team is aiming for a 575 km orbit, which would go the farthest any human has traveled since Hubble, with a mission duration of three days.
“The all-civilian Inspiration4 astronauts are paving the way for a future where space is more accessible to all who wish to go, and we are so proud that they entrusted us to fly them,” said SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell. “On behalf of all SpaceX employees, I want to thank the crew and their families for allowing us to be a part of their historic mission.”
The Inspiration4 the world’s first all-civilian spaceflight team will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere for gentle water landing off the coast of Florida after a three-day voyage.
The mission can be tracked at spacex.com/launches through their Dragon Tracker tool. To see updates on Inspiration4’s journey throughout the mission, visit www.inspiration4.com