Inspiration4: SpaceX announces ‘all-civilian mission to space’ to benefit St. Jude

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(NEXSTAR) – SpaceX is planning to send “the world’s first all-civilian mission to space,” the company announced Monday.

The journey to space, dubbed Inspiration4, is planned for the fourth quarter of 2021 and the Crew Dragon capsule will be piloted by the CEO of Shift4 Payments, 37-year-old Jared Isaacman.

Isaacman is an accomplished pilot, SpaceX said in a news release.

Inspiration4 is named for the four people taking the trip and seeks to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Isaacman says he is donating the three other seats to crew members who will be selected to represent “the mission pillars of leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity.”

Two of the seats will go to St. Jude, with the final crew member chosen through an online competition on Shift4 Payments’ new ecommerce platform, Shift4Shop.

All four crew members will undergo extensive training focusing on orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, zero gravity and other forms of stress and emergency testing. They are scheduled to take part in partial and full mission simulations before the launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“Inspiration4 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 in the release. “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.”

The crew will be “carefully monitored” at every step of the “multi-day journey” by SpaceX mission control as the craft “orbits the planet every 90 minutes along a customized flight path.”

The Crew Dragon is scheduled to make a “soft water landing off the coast of Florida.”

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