What We Know About Inspiration4, SpaceX’s first 100% tourist space mission, due to take off this Wednesday

Space tourism is taking a new turn. Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, will send four passengers for three days into space on Wednesday, September 15th. This is the first mission to place in orbit around the Earth only complete novices, without a professional astronaut on board. Here’s what you need to know about the Inspiration4 mission.

Three days in program space

Some go to Normandy for a weekend. Others now travel into space for three days. In any case, this is the Inspiration4 mission program. Take-off is scheduled for Wednesday, September 15, starting at 8 pm (Thursday at 2 am in France) from Florida. Another launch opportunity is planned for the following day, if weather conditions demand it.

Passengers will take off from legendary Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Center, Florida, where the Apollo Moon missions took off. they will embark on a Falcon 9 rocket and will stay in the Dragon capsule for three days. Suffice it to say that the mission has nothing to do with the few-minute experience offered by Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin. This time, it’s about flying further than the International Space Station. Only that.

A team of newcomers (for the first time)

This space mission has one particularity, and not the least. It will be the first to place in orbit around the Earth only complete novices, without a professional astronaut on board. Elon Musk’s company has already transported no fewer than ten astronauts to the ISS on behalf of NASA. But they will be the first private passengers to board the Dragon capsule, launched by the Falcon 9 rocket.

This 100% tourist mission was chartered by billionaire Jared Isaacman, at his expense. this american The head of a 38-year-old financial services company is also an experienced pilot. But he didn’t find the company that would allow him to make the trip. He simply rents the services, for an undisclosed price that runs into tens of millions of dollars.

In addition to Jared Isaacman, captain aboard, three anonymous people will be on the trip, selected through an original process that began with a projected Super Bowl halftime ad. Each seat was created to embody a value. Hayley Arceneaux, pediatric cancer survivor, represents “hope”. The 29-year-old was selected because she works as a medical assistant at St Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Chris Sembroski, 42, got the seat of the “generosity”. Is about ofn former US Air Force employee now working in the aviation industry. Finally, the last seat represents the “prosperity”, and was offered to Sian Proctor, a 51-year-old earth science professor who, in 2009, almost became a NASA astronaut.

A training of several months

Compression socks will not be enough for this mission. The crew trained extensively before flying into space. Its four limbs have experienced the g-force to which they will be exposed thanks to a centrifuge, a rapidly rotating arm of several meters. On board parabolic flights, they’ve already experienced a feeling of lightness. They also took a high-altitude snow hike on Mount Rainier in the northwestern United States.

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Finally, future passengers spent some time at the SpaceX facility, although the flight would normally remain fully automated. During the three days in orbit, your sleep, heart rate, blood and cognitive abilities will be analyzed. Tests will be carried out before and after the flight to study the effect of travel on the body.

A Netflix series to follow the adventure

Passengers did not plan a photo album to remember this three-day getaway, but a Netflix series. Four episodes of this series titled Countdown: four tourists in space have already been uploaded to the platform. A fifth and final episode is planned when the mission returns, if all goes well.

“The risk is not zero”, Jared Isaacman recognizes in one of the episodes of the documentary released by Netflix about the mission: “You are traveling on a 28,000 km/h ship around the globe. This type of environment presents some risks.”

The beginning of space tourism on a larger scale

The mission Inspiration4 must conclude a summer marked by the flight of billionaires over the last frontier: first Richard Branson on July 11, aboard the Virgin Galactic ship, and a few days later Jeff Bezos, with his company Blue Origin. But this new mission must above all prepare the future of space tourism. The idea is to accumulate data for future private passengers and open the doors of space to a larger number of very rich tourists. And that’s despite the criticism surrounding the development of these space trips, whose cost to planet Earth is astronomical: as the Conversation specifies, a single orbiting trip by a space tourist emits as much CO2 as a driver for 160 years. .

Several tourist mission projects are already underway. In January 2022, three businessmen will travel to the ISS alongside an experienced astronaut. SpaceX is also planning another in-orbit trip for four private customers, organized by intermediary company Space Adventures. Finally, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa should also take a trip around the Moon, a priori in 2023, this time aboard the Starship rocket, still under development by SpaceX.

On Virgin Galactic’s side, regular commercial operations are scheduled to start in 2022. Russia, in turn, will send an actress and director to the ISS aboard a Soyuz rocket. The goal: to film the first fiction film in orbit and in zero gravity.

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