Are they space tourists? Citizen astronaut? All civilian astronauts? No matter what you call them, the four teammates who will enter orbit in the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule today need to create a new category.
“I know what you should be called is controversial,” NASA retired astronaut Scott Kelly Tell the group of four in a tweet today“But when you attach a rocket and launch into orbit, you can call yourself whatever you want: astronaut, astronaut, astronaut-whatever.”
Jared Isaacman, the billionaire CEO of Shift4 Payments, paid for the launch and was the mission commander… Hayley Arceneaux, 29-year-old cancer survivor, About to become the youngest American to enter space… Professor Sian Proctor and the artist who supported Isaacman to become the first black space pilot in the United States.
Then came Chris Sembroski, a former Air Force missile technician and Lockheed Martin engineer from Everett, Washington. When an old college friend of his wins a charity raffle, Sembroski has the opportunity to train for the mission and board the “Dragon”-and then give him a reservation.
“I think this really puts me in a very special position. Not only do I feel very lucky here, but I also have a huge responsibility to pay for this,” Sembroski said in a pre-release briefing.
The launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to be launched from the historic 39A launch site at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 8:05 pm Eastern Time (5:05 pm Pacific Time).But although three days Inspiration4 mission Starting with facilities owned by NASA, the space agency has hardly participated.
This will be the first non-governmental manned flight into orbit and the first SpaceX manned flight into the International Space Station. Instead, the group of four will enter a higher orbit than the space station — higher than the orbit that humans have flown since the space shuttle’s Hubble Space Telescope mission.
During the flight, Isaacman and his crew will conduct scientific experiments, teach courses from space, and conduct auctions and other charitable activities designed to benefit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If everything goes according to plan, the dragon will land on the Atlantic on Saturday.
Streaming reports on countdown, launch and space operations will be passed approximately four hours before launch SpaceX website.
On one level, the Inspiration4 mission is a billionaire trying to turn the crew’s personal space adventure into an activity to raise funds for St. Jude. Isaacman’s goal is to raise 200 million US dollars for the hospital, and he himself has invested 100 million US dollars. This is the most important fee he paid to SpaceX: Although Isaacman did not say how much the launch cost, the ticket price is considered to be more than 100 million U.S. dollars (but not as high as 200 million U.S. dollars).
On another level, the first essentially non-governmental, “all-civilian” orbital flight was designed to open the way for wider space access—not just trained test pilots and other professional astronauts, but It’s ordinary people.
On another level, Inspiration4 can be seen as another step towards SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s vision of establishing a human beachhead in other worlds.
“This organization will send us to the moon to a large extent, and of course it will focus on Mars, right?” Isaacman said. “There are a lot of risks in such a six-month journey. So it’s best to start taking some deliberate mitigation methods now so that we can continue to move towards those extraordinary goals, such as making life more planetary.”
For all these reasons, Todd “Leif” Ericson, a mission manager for Inspiration4, believes that Inspiration4 may mark the true beginning of the second space age. Eriksson is not a starry space geek either: he is a former Air Force test pilot and a veteran of the Virgin Galactic suborbital space program.
Eriksen talked about the mission and its importance in an interview on the eve of the launch. This is the edited record of the question and answer:
Ericsson: “This mission is a good example that a commercial entity like SpaceX can complete the mission in a short time. Dragon has never been higher than the International Space Station, about 420 kilometers. We told them that for this mission, we want to do something important. Thing. We want to start taking the first step to become an interplanetary species-which means we have to start working in low Earth orbit. They analyzed and we came up with an orbital altitude of 575 kilometers. This is from Apo The highest time since Luo-except for two missions, this is basically the Hubble deployment and maintenance mission of the space shuttle. This is a very meaningful thing.
“Then SpaceX decided to build this cupola for observing the earth and deep space. The time from the beginning to the flight-ready hardware is basically six months. Try to do this on a government contract!”
GeekWire: Is there anything that needs to be changed in terms of training because this is a non-NASA mission?
Ericsson: “This is a huge theme for everyone on this mission. We are built on the backs of giants. Everything NASA does is used for this purpose. The intensity of training is comparable to that of any NASA crew in flying dragons. The training is as intensive, but it is tailored for our mission. We don’t go to the International Space Station, so we don’t need to worry about close operations or docking, but there are things like cupolas that can reduce the risk there.”
GeekWire: Everyone wants to know how non-professional astronauts receive training, and what this indicates for the future.
Ericsson: “I am very interested in this myself. I think this mission marks the dawn of what I call the second space age. Now is the space age. Space is no longer just a nation-state, but corporations and ordinary individuals. So far, NASA has been fortunate enough to manually select the best physically and academically. But the next generation will require us to put more than 600 people into orbit over the past 50 years.
“You need to figure out the average condition of people in space. What are the restrictions? When you have the world population to choose from, the medical team can easily put forward strict requirements. But when you start to open that aperture and let more and more You can’t be so selective when the people come in. And I think there are some interesting benefits when you start to open that aperture.”
GeekWire: You make people have different opinions.
Ericsson: “Yes. So far, there have been a lot of test pilots, scientists, and engineers. This is a matter that pays great attention to the left brain. But from the perspective of benefiting mankind, how can we open up other less tangible aspects in a way? Ways to do this? I think these aspects are equally important for exploration and the goal of being an interstellar species, and may be more important in some respects.”
GeekWire: I want to ask about your own experience while performing tasks-for example, in the Netflix documentary series. I bet it is a bit more than what you are bargaining.
Ericsson: “This is what I think is the beauty of this mission: it emphasizes the Church of St. Jude. Jared has said many times that it is one thing to go to space and have the opportunity to do what he is doing. That’s why There are many wonderful things happening. But if we do this without remembering what happened on Earth, we will miss the ship. Jared’s “bumper sticker” is, “Hey, if we can go to space , We need to be able to cure childhood cancers on the planet and solve some other problems. “
“I think this is the cool thing about being a part of it: paying attention outward. Jared didn’t focus on himself. He didn’t want to because he realized that it was not the important part. You know, follow the rationale. With the flight of Sir Chad Branson and Jeff Bezos, people began to pay attention to “space billionaires.” This has a negative connotation. I hope the Netflix documentary can emphasize the fact that this is more than four people The story of entering space. If you look back at the history of mankind, our progress is only because we have spent time and capital to surpass where we have been before.
“Space exploration is expensive, right? Initially, people with financial capabilities like Jared were required to start to challenge this limit. Aviation is a good example. It initially followed a very similar process, just in the first world. Between the Great War and the Second World War. The industry has changed from essentially a government field to a search for civilian use. This once a military tool can now benefit all mankind. This is where I think we are now traveling in space.
“I appreciate people like Jared, who are willing to use the resources acquired by their hard work and invest them in a cause that ultimately benefits all mankind. I think this is a very noble endeavour, and I don’t want it to be in the narrative. Lost. It’s easy to call it a “billionaire space drive,” and as you know, it’s much more than that.”