No professional astronauts: SpaceX will launch first all-civilian crew into orbit tonight

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Cape Canaveral, Fla. — SpaceX is set to launch four ordinary citizens into orbit Wednesday night without any professional astronauts along for the ride, An unprecedented achievement in the history of spacecraft.

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The five-hour launch window for Inspiration 4 will open at 8:02 p.m. EDT for launch from Launch Complex 39-A at Kennedy Space Center.

A backup window opens Thursday at 8:05 p.m. EDT.

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A specially modified Crew Dragon capsule perched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry four private citizens waiting to begin three days of Earth orbit, the first time an all-civilian crew will orbit the planet.

Instead of climbing to the edge of space and returning to the ground in less than an hour Virgin Galactic And Blue Origin recently didInspiration 4 will orbit the Earth and do so in a higher orbit than the International Space Station.

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Paying for it is Jared Isaacman, a 38-year-old billionaire high-school dropout who is promoting the flight as part of a massive fundraising effort for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Issakman, a pilot qualified to fly commercial and military jets, struck a deal with SpaceX in late 2020 for the mission. Neither is saying how much it is paying SpaceX for the launch, although Isaacman has said it was less than the $200 million he hopes to raise for St. Jude.

“This dream began 10 months ago,” Isaacman said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, noting how quickly the mission came together. “We set out from the very beginning to deliver a very inspiring message, certainly about the opportunity in space and what can be done there. But also what we can accomplish here on Earth.

Must be joined with:

Hayley Arsinaux, a physician assistant in St. Jude. He was treated for bone cancer in the hospital as a child.

Chris Sambrowski, an aerospace worker from Seattle, was selected from donations based on 72,000 entries for St. Jude.

Sean Proctor, a teacher and trained pilot who was a finalist in NASA’s 2009 astronaut class.

How the first all-civilian spacecraft came together:Billionaires promoting flight as fundraising effort for St. Jude, documented by Netflix

SpaceX and Isaacman unveiled their project to the world during the Super Bowl in February in a TV ad encouraging people to apply for the mission.

Netflix is ​​also documenting the team’s preparation and flight for the series on its platform. While “Countdown: Inspiration 4 Mission to Space” is labeled a documentary series, it is more similar to reality television than a Ken Burns film.

Video cameras seemed to have been around the crew for months, ever since crew members first learned they were going into space (via zoom calls in which reactions varied from shock to tears). was capturing them, sharing the news with friends and family for a trip to the Kennedy Space Center to tour the launch pad where they will explode. It also includes video footage of Archinox as a 10-year-old patient in St. Jude.

Follow John McCarthy and Rick Neale on Twitter: @JournalistJohnM and @RickNaele1

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