The countdown begins! SpaceX’s first all-civilian crew will launch into space TONIGHT on a three-day mission to orbit the Earth in a capsule the size of a camper van

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  • Four civilians will launch tonight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
  • Team will spend 3 days orbiting Earth in modified Crew Dragon module
  • The smaller module measures 27 x 13 feet, with one passenger describing it as a ‘camper van’.

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The world’s first all-civilian mission to space, called Inspiration 4, is set to launch in a matter of hours.

The historic mission, piloted by billionaire Elon Musk’s firm SpaceX, will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida just after 8:02 a.m. EDT (1:02 p.m. BST Thursday) during a five-hour window.

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It is sending four civilians – Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arsinaux, Sean Proctor and Chris Sambrowski – on a three-day orbital flight around Earth.

A ‘Proven Jet Pilot’ According to Inspiration4 WebsiteIsaacman, the mission’s commander, is funding the trip in a private deal made with SpaceX.

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The other three civilians were selected through a competition launched by SpaceX in February.

The team will be aboard a specially modified version of SpaceX’s capsule Crew Dragon, which will have a domed window or ‘cupola’ to allow for some of the most sensational views of space.

Mr. Sembrowski, a 42-year-old Air Force veteran, likened the extraordinary journey to a ‘camper van’ ride.

That’s not far off: The Dragon capsule’s interior offers its occupants the tightness of 27 by 13 feet of space.

‘You just wrap yourself in (sleeping bag) so you don’t swim into each other during the middle of the night!’ He joked.

Inspiration4 Crew (LR) Chris Sambrowski, Sean Proctor, Jared Isaacman and Hayley Arsinaux pose for a photo

The SpaceX Dragon crew capsule pictured has been redesigned, which now has a glass dome on top for the crew to look into space.

The SpaceX Dragon crew capsule pictured has been redesigned, which now has a glass dome on top for the crew to look into space.

Prerna 4 Crew

–Jared Isaacman, CEO of Shift4 Payments

–Sean Proctor, a community college teacher in Arizona

–Chris Sambrowski, a former Air Force missileman from Washington

—Haley Arsinox, a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee

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‘No panic, excited to go!’ US billionaire Jared Isaacman told reporters at a news conference when asked about his state of mind.

Hayley Arsinaux, 29, a medical assistant, said, ‘Any setbacks are the good kind. ‘I’m just so excited.’

This morning, SpaceX confirmed that the launch is on track for this evening.

It tweeted, ‘Falcon 9 and Dragon on pad 39A in Florida’.

‘The five-hour launch window opens on September 15 at 8:02 p.m. EDT.’

The four-man team, under the command of Isaacman, will be launched on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

Isaacman is the CEO of Shift4 Payments, while Proctor is a community college teacher in Arizona, Chris Sambroski is a former Air Force missileman in Washington, and Hayley Arsinox, a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee.

Inspiration4 is designed primarily to raise awareness and support for the Pediatric Cancer Center, which successfully treated Arsinox for bone cancer in childhood.

SpaceX's capsule Crew Dragon has a domed window or 'cupola' to allow some sensational views of space for the four-person crew.

SpaceX’s capsule Crew Dragon has a domed window or ‘cupola’ to allow some sensational views of space for the four-person crew.

While this is not the first time civilians have traveled to space, it is the first mission to be conducted entirely by civilians.

Crew Dragon will orbit Earth for only three days, completing an orbit every 90 minutes with an optimized flight path as it travels at more than 17,000 mph.

Its progress will be carefully monitored every step of the way by SpaceX Mission Control.

SpaceX says: ‘At the conclusion of the mission, Dragon will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere to cool waters off the coast of Florida.’

Jared Isaacman, left to right, Hayley Arsinaux, Sean Proctor and Chris Sambrowski make up the Inspiration4 crew

Jared Isaacman, left to right, Hayley Arsinaux, Sean Proctor and Chris Sambrowski make up the Inspiration4 crew

Image courtesy of Inspiration4 Mission Commander Jared Isaacman, Founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments

Image courtesy of Inspiration4 Mission Commander Jared Isaacman, Founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments

The Inspiration 4 crew has received commercial astronaut training by SpaceX on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, orbital mechanics, working in low gravity, and other forms of stress testing before travel.

Isaacman previously told DailyMail.com, ‘It will take several months of training.

Crew Dragon’s 365lbs of cargo capacity is allocated for both crew essentials as well as dedicated scientific equipment for micro-gravity research and experimentation.

Isaacman said, ‘When we’re up we’re going to get the payload and go to the experiment.

‘We offered to pick up payloads from St. Jude’s and other places because the waiting list is too long.’

Musk revealed after Inspiration4 announcement in February NBC News: ‘Any mission where there’s a crew on board bothers me. The risk is not zero.

‘When you have a brand new mode of transportation, you have to pioneer. Things are expensive at first, and as you are able to increase launch rates, increase production rates, refine technology, it becomes less expensive and accessible to more people.

‘We’ll be with Jared throughout the journey and we’ll see it in real time. This is an important milestone in making access to space more affordable.

A shot of the Inspiration 4 suit, adorned with patches representing the four pillars of the mission - leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity

A shot of the Inspiration 4 suit, adorned with patches representing the four pillars of the mission – leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity

A few days later, a 30-second advertisement aired during the Superbowl break, instructing potential Inspire 4 crew members to apply on their website.

The ad displayed close-up shots of SpaceX suits, adorned with patches representing the mission’s four pillars – leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity.

These four pillars correspond to the four members of the crew – Isaacman, Arkinox, Sambrowski and Proctor, respectively, according to inspiration4 website.

The SpaceX-led mission follows voyages to space from two of Musk’s billionaire rival – Sir Richard Branson, who is leading the…

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