Worldâs First All-Civilian Mission to Space Will Usher in New Era While Raising Money for St. Judeâs
SpaceX announced plans for the world’s first all-civilian mission to space. Targeted for late 2021, the flight will be commanded by Jared Isaacman, a 37-year-old entrepreneur and accomplished pilot—and they’re looking for co-adventurers.
Named Inspiration4 in recognition of the four-person crew’s mission to inspire support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the journey punctuates a new era for human spaceflight and exploration.
Isaacman is donating the three mission seats alongside him to crew members who will be selected to represent the mission pillars of leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity—and they are using a Super Bowl to announce the search for players.
“Inspiration4 is the realization of a lifelong dream and a step towards a future in which anyone can venture out and explore the stars,” said Isaacman, the founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments. “I appreciate the tremendous responsibility that comes with commanding this mission and I want to use this historic moment to inspire humanity while helping to tackle childhood cancer here on Earth.”
Isaacman and the Inspiration4 crew will undergo commercial astronaut training by SpaceX on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, including a specific focus on orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, zero gravity, and other forms of stress testing, according to this week’s announcement. They will receive emergency preparedness training, spacesuit and spacecraft ingress and egress exercises, as well as partial- and full-mission simulations.
The mission will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and will be carefully monitored at every step by SpaceX mission control as the spacecraft orbits the planet every 90 minutes along a customized flight path. Upon conclusion of the multi-day journey, Dragon will reenter Earth’s atmosphere for a soft water landing off the coast of Florida.
Isaacman has given St. Jude two seats on the Inspiration4 mission. The first seat is reserved for a St. Jude ambassador with direct ties to the hospital’s vision. This month, members of the public can enter for a chance to join the flight in the second seat and pledge support to the lifesaving mission of St. Jude.
Isaacman has committed to give $100 million to St. Jude and is inviting everyone to join him in attempting to raise upwards of $200 million in support of St. Jude’s multi-billion dollar expansion aimed to accelerate research advancements and save more children worldwide. He will also offer additional support to the St. Jude fundraising effort in the form of other prizes, including flights in a military jet and flight gear.
Rated to fly both commercial and military aircraft, Isaacman holds several world records including a Speed-Around-The-World flight to raise money and awareness for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
He has flown in over 100 airshows as part of the Black Diamond Jet Team, dedicating every performance to charitable causes. In 2011, Isaacman co-founded what would become the world’s largest private air force, Draken International, to train pilots for the United States Armed Forces.
Dragon, the reusable spacecraft, made history when it was launched into orbit by SpaceX to resupply the International Space Station in 2012, after its maiden flight two years earlier marked the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to be recovered successfully from orbit.
Shift4 Payments is providing marketing support for the mission and will use the Super Bowl broadcast this Sunday, to dramatically introduce the mission and its purpose to the public. A 30-second spot will air during the first quarter of the Big Game and invite all viewers to support and be part of this historic journey through the St. Jude.
“This partnership brings two missions together to create one incredible moment in time that will make an impact for years to come on the global effort to cure childhood cancer,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude.
Isaacman will collaborate with Shift4 Payments to offer the fourth and final crew seat—representing the prosperity mission pillar—to an entrepreneur who utilizes the new Shift4Shop eCommerce platform to ‘launch’ their online businesses with the softward.
Isaacman concluded, “Today’s announcement is the first step of a very exciting journey. In the lead-up to launch, we’ll share new ways to support and follow our mission preparation and execution with a focus on inspiring and helping others.”
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