tech2 News StaffSep 16, 2021 07:30:13 IST
The stage is set for what is touted as the first ‘all civilian’ mission to space.
Four people with no experience and with minimal training are going to be launched into space. Unlike previous missions, there will be no experienced or officially trained astronaut onboard. These space tourists will orbit the Earth for three days in a fully automated Crew Dragon capsule that has been specially designed for this journey.
The capsule is outfitted with a cupola window, that will give me an all-around view of their surroundings. The new three-layer observation dome replaces the docking mechanism that is usually present to allow it to dock with the ISS.
This capsule will be similar to those that are used by NASA to send its astronauts to the International Space Station in accordance to the commercial crew program contract they signed with Elon Musk’s aerospace company.
Named Inspiration4, this journey into space is being bankrolled by 38-year-old entrepreneur and founder of Shift4 Payments Jared Issacson. SpaceX hasn’t disclosed what it cost him, but the price tag runs into tens of millions of dollars. The capsule can carry four people and he is taking with him two lucky winners and a health care worker who was a bone cancer survivor.
The mission is also the subject of a docu-series — Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space — that was released on Netflix. It follows the journey of the four members as they prepare for the mission. Till now, only four episodes have been released with the rest of the episodes scheduled to be released after the launch takes place and the crew returns home.
Hayley Arceneaux is a 29-year-old physician assistant who works in St Jude, the same hospital she as treated in. She will be the youngest American to go into orbit and the first person with a prosthesis, on a part of her femur.
She was the first member to be announced that would be a part of this mission. The other two tourists were selected from an online lottery system, where people were encouraged to donate to the hospital.
The mission while is a statement that space tourism is here to stay, it also has two more objectives – to raise $200 million for St Jude and to study the human body in space.
Chris Sembroski is a 42-year-old former US Air Force employee. He had donated and entered the lottery but wasn’t picked — his friend was. However, his friend declined to fly for personal reasons and offered the spot to Sembroski, who worked as a Space Camp counsellor in college and volunteered for space advocacy groups.
“Just finding out that I’m going to space was an incredible, strange, surreal event,” he told AFP.
Sian Proctor, a 51-year-old geology professor, was almost selected to become an astronaut for NASA in 2009. She will be only the fourth African American woman to go to space. She beat out 200 businesses and nabbed the seat reserved for a customer of Isaacman’s company. An independent panel of judges chose her space art website dubbed Space2inspire.
“It was like when Harry Potter found out he was a wizard, a little bit of shock and awe,” Proctor told The Associated Press. “It’s like, ‘I’m the winner?’”
How to watch it live
The mission is going to launch tomorrow, 16 September at 5.32 am IST (15 September, 8.02 pm EDT) aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft. The launch will take place from the Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spaceship will take them to an altitude of 575 kilometres which is higher than the ISS. Approximately three days later the crew will return to Earth by splashing down off the coast of Florida, their descent slowed down by huge parachutes.
To watch the launch online you can tune into any of SpaceX’s social media handles where they will be broadcasting the launch live. You can also watch it live, here.