This article is part of the EXAME Desperta newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive a summary of news items every morning
A scientist, an engineer, a medical assistant and a billionaire go into space — the end of the story we still don’t know, but its beginning is scheduled for today, 3 pm, at 9 pm GMT. Aboard the space company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft SpaceX, from Elon Musk, four crew members will be the first “non-astronauts” to go into space for three days.
the mission, called Inspiration4, is a milestone when we talk about the future of space tourism. Maybe you’ve read about it recently when companies Virgin Galactic e Blue Origin carried out two missions with tourists on board in early July, but which lasted approximately twelve minutes.
The companies’ CEOs, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, respectively, were also on the flight, but Elon Musk will not follow in his colleagues’ footsteps. It’s not the first time that Tesla’s CEO has stood out from the competition: partner of Nasa, has already helped take several astronauts from the agency to the International Space Station (ISS) and recently signed an exclusive contract valued at 2.9 billion dollars for build one of the Starship spacecraft for the Artemis program. The news was not greeted with great joy by Bezos, who sued the US agency.
For SpaceX, Inspiration4 can show the world that spaceflight with civilians is the new future and a possibility for anyone. It will be the first time in history that “amateur astronauts” will be trained to survive for days in a capsule in Earth orbit.
“We want to make the dream of space accessible to anyone. The mission helps make people aware of spaceflight, making it more personal. Hopefully it inspires people to fly, as the name implies,” Musk said in the documentary “Inspiration4: Star Voyage”. the series of Netflix it was launched last Monday, 13th, and shows the backstage of the space mission.
Inspiration4, however, goes far beyond reaching space: its goal is to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a charity hospital for children with cancer. More than half of the amount has already been donated by the billionaire and crew member Jared Isaacman and the rest will be collected through the Inspiration4 website.
Who are the four crew of Inspiration4?
Isaacman is 38 years old and is the CEO of Shift4 Payments, an online payments company, and founder of Draken International, the company responsible for one of the largest private air forces in the world. He purchased all four seats aboard Dragon for an undisclosed amount (estimated at $50 million each).
“I could have just invited a bunch of my fellow pilots to go and we would have had a lot of fun and come back for a bunch of cocktails,” Isaacman tells the magazine. Time. “Instead, we wanted to bring ordinary people in and energize everyone around the idea of opening up spaceflight to more and more of us.”
It was decided that the other three chairs would be chosen differently: the first would be for a St. Jude hospital worker; the second would be through a lottery, in which anyone could be chosen when making a donation to the hospital, and the third and last vacancy would be the most difficult of all: to get it, it would be necessary to devise a project using the software from Isaacman’s company Shift4 and develop a campaign for social media.
The chosen St. Jude collaborator is Hayley Arceneaux, 29, assistant physician and childhood cancer survivor. She will be the youngest person to spend a few days in Earth orbit and also the first person to fly in space with a prosthesis (an artificial left femur that replaces the bone she lost at age 10 due to the disease).
The lottery winner is Chris Sembroski, 41, Lockheed Martin engineer and US Air Force veteran. The one who won the competition for the last place is the professor and geoscientist Sian Proctor, 51, who already applied to be a NASA astronaut twice.
In 2009, Proctor was one of the last 50 finalists in the space agency’s program, but failed. “At least one of the people chosen for the class in 2009 hasn’t even had the chance to fly yet,” says Proctor, who will arrive at the space outside the traditional route.
What will the Inspiration4 mission look like?
The four crew will take off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, United States. From there, some of the most landmark space travel in history has been launched: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins took off from this platform for the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969, and became the first men to set foot on the Moon.
The vehicle used will be the Crew Dragon Resilience (“resilience”, in Portuguese), evolution of an old SpaceX spacecraft by the name of Dragon 1. It won’t dock with the International Space Station (ISS). Instead, it will float through orbit until the end of the journey.
Underneath the Crew Dragon will be the Falcon 9, a two-stage rocket that has nine powerful engines to drive the spacecraft into orbit. While other versions of the capsule have small, straight windows, this ship will have a dome to provide a full view of space. It is a “special edition” for the Inspiration4 quest.
A look at Dragon’s Cupola, which will provide our Inspiration4 astronauts with incredible views of Earth from orbit!
The crew visited the flight-hardware Cupola in California before it was shipped to Florida for integration with Dragon Resilience. pic.twitter.com/9ivMZrS1ip
— Inspiration4 (@inspiration4x) September 1, 2021
After takeoff, the Falcon 9 will reach half of its orbital latitude and the first stage of the rocket will detach. The rocket’s second stage will accelerate the spacecraft to a continuous velocity of about 28,000 kilometers per hour and then it will fall, leaving only the Crew Dragon in orbit.
The craft must maintain a continuous speed of 28,000 kilometers per hour for three days. Upon re-entry to Earth, the vehicle will turn and begin to slowly decelerate down to the atmosphere. A small parachute will be launched, followed by a larger one, for the crew to descend smoothly until they land in the Atlantic Ocean.
In the mission, Isaacman will serve as commander, Proctor as pilot, Arceneaux as medic, and Proctor as mission specialist. Each represents a pillar “for humanity”, as SpaceX describes it: leadership, prosperity, hope and generosity, respectively.
Once in orbit, the crew will perform human health experiments and performance in space, which will contribute to future spaceflights. In addition, SpaceX, the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) and Weill Cornell Medicine researchers will collect environmental data and biological samples from the four members before, during and after the flight.
Despite being expensive and far from the Brazilian reality, space flights with civilians should become more common and accessible if fashion catches on over time. “All technology starts with the billionaires and then the price goes down. Space travel, in theory, will be the same way, starting with rich customers and then the price dropping as technology improves and becomes more accessible and common,” said Laura Forczyk, space industry expert, EXAME .
Watch the Inspiration4 mission launch at 9:00 pm:
- Don’t miss out on the latest technology market trends. Sign the EXAM.