NATIONAL NEWS

SpaceX Announces First-Ever All-Civilian Space Flight Crew

Feb 2, 2021, 5:31 AM
SpaceX announces first-ever all-civilian space flight crew. (SPACEX)...
SpaceX announces first-ever all-civilian space flight crew. (SPACEX)
(SPACEX)

Jared Isaacman, an entrepreneur behind a payment processing startup, is funding a multimillion trip to space aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, which could be the first-ever orbital flight crewed entirely by non-astronauts.

Isaacman, 37, said he will command the mission, which is slated for late-2021 and will see the spacecraft make a “multi-day” trip into Earth’s orbit, according to a press release. Isaacman has purchased three additional seats aboard the mission. The seats will be donated to a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital “ambassador,” and a member of the public who enters for a chance to join the trip.

The St. Jude ambassador has already been selected, Isaacman said. He did not disclose any details of their identity beyond saying it would be a woman and a front-line healthcare worker who’s “committed to helping kids beat cancer.”

The fourth seat is reserved for a winner of a contest, limited to customers of Isaacman’s eCommerce platform, Shift4Shop. Eligible competitors will have to launch an online store on the platform and tweet a video about their “entrepreneurial story,” which will then be reviewed by “a panel of celebrity judges, ” according to the company. The names of the judges were not yet disclosed.

It’s not clear when the winners will be chosen, though Isaacman told reporters on a conference call Monday that the crew members could all begin training within 30 days.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who has previously expressed interest in joining a SpaceX mission, told reporters that he will not be on the Inspiration4 mission.

“I’ll be on a flight one day, but not this one,” he said.

Isaacman added that this mission, dubbed Inspiration4, with the “4” referencing the number of crew members, “is the realization of a lifelong dream and a step towards a future in which anyone can venture out and explore the stars.”

Isaacman said he wanted the mission to also mark a “historic moment to inspire humanity while helping to tackle childhood cancer,” and he pledged to also donate $100 million to the hospital as part of a push to raise $200 million more dollars for the organization’s research.

Isaacman is also the CEO of Shift4, a payment processing company that says it processed more than $200 billion in payments in 2019 in industries including retail, hospitality and gaming. Forbes estimates Isaacman has a net worth of roughly $2 billion.

It’s not clear exaclty how long the trip will be or where in orbit it will fly. Musk told Isaacman on Monday, “wherever you want to go, we’ll take you there.”

SpaceX has long said it would be open to selling tickets to civilians and tourists for seats on its Crew Dragon capsule, which entered operations last year and is primarily intended to shuttle NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Last February, SpaceX hinted that it would put together a trip for four people to spend a few days in orbit, enjoying Earthly views onboard the 13-foot-wide spacecraft.

SpaceX will train Isaacman, who has previous experience piloting various aircraft, and his fellow crew members for the mission at SpaceX facilities.

That training will involved some of the regimen that professional astronauts undertake, including emergency preparedness, microgravity training and space suit training, according to the press release.

SpaceX — and NASA — have long hoped that SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon spacecraft would cultivate more private-sector interest in spending big bucks on space travel. SpaceX created the capsule for NASA under its Commercial Crew Program, which sought to return humans spaceflight capabilities to the Untied States after the Space Shuttle Program’s retirement in 2011 left America without that capability for nearly a decade.

But rather than owning the spacecraft, as NASA has owned all previous humans spaceflight vehicles, the Commercial Crew Program allowed SpaceX to retain ownership, allowing it to sell seats to non-astronauts with the aim of drumming up interest in space-based research and tourism.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

In an aerial view, freight rail cars sit in a rail yard near shipping containers on November 22, 20...
JOSH FUNK, AP Business Writer

Biden calls on Congress to head off potential rail strike

President Joe Biden is calling on Congress to pass legislation to intervene and block a railroad strike before next month’s deadline in the stalled contract talks.
22 hours ago
U.S. President Donald Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a news conference at...
JILL COLVIN, Associated Press

Pence calls on Trump to apologize for dinner with antisemite

Former Vice President Mike Pence says Donald Trump “demonstrated profoundly poor judgment” and is calling on him to apologize after his supposed dinner a with Holocaust-denying white nationalist.
22 hours ago
Onlookers watch as law enforcement investigates the site of a fatal shooting in a Walmart on Novemb...
Associated Press

Virginia city holds vigil to honor Walmart shooting victims

The city of Chesapeake, Virginia, has scheduled a candlelight vigil to honor the victims of the mass shooting at a Walmart store.
22 hours ago
RSV and flu...
Deidre McPhillips, CNN

Flu season intensifies, holiday gatherings could make it worse

Americans gathered for Thanksgiving last week amid a flu season that's worse than any has been in more than a decade, and experts continue to urge caution as multiple respiratory viruses circulate at high levels nationwide.
22 hours ago
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are all making news with wild up-and-down swings in value. (File...
KEN SWEET and MICHELLE CHAPMAN, The Associated Press

BlockFi files for bankruptcy, latest crypto company to fail

Cryptocurrency lender BlockFi filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, the latest casualty of the collapse of crypto exchange FTX.
22 hours ago
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 11: Election workers open mail in ballots at the Maricopa County Tabula...
JONATHAN J. COOPER, Associated Press

GOP-controlled Arizona county refuses to certify election

Republican officials in a rural Arizona county refused Monday to certify the 2022 election ahead of the deadline.
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
SpaceX Announces First-Ever All-Civilian Space Flight Crew