For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – SpaceX is targeting Wednesday evening, Sept. 15, for liftoff of the Inspiration4 mission on the world’s first all civilian mission to low Earth orbit with a crew of four private people aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft – none of them government astronauts – with the goal of raising awareness and significant fundraising of hundreds of millions of dollars to benefit science research and patient treatment for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
All systems are GO following a successful middle-of-the-night static fire test early Monday, Sept. 13.
The history making mission will be commanded by billionaire entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, the 38-year-old founder and Chief Executive Officer of Shift4 Payments payment system who is also an accomplished pilot and adventurer, as well as a high school dropout.
Isaacman personally arranged the flight with SpaceX and CEO Elon Musk and financed the Inspiration4 mission with his own funds and is paying for the seats of the other three private passengers aboard – none of whom knew one another until they were selected in February and March earlier this year.
In addition to Isaacman the crew is comprised of three private U.S. citizens who were either selected by Isaacman or through competitions; 29 year old Hayley Arceneaux, a bone cancer survivor who was treated as a 10 year old at St. Jude and is now a physician’s assistant at the hospital, 51-year old Sian Proctor, a pilot, artist geoscientist, science communicator and finalist in the 2009 astronaut selection process, and 41 year old Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran and aerospace data analyst who works at Lockheed Martin.
Arceneaux will also be the youngest American to achieve orbit and the first person in space with a prosthesis – a metal rod in her leg from the bone cancer treatment. She will serve as medical officer of the three-day mission.
Another stated goal of the mission is to open the door for “everyday people” to fly in space – beyond just highly trained government astronauts, qualified scientists and in a very few cases wealthy individuals who could afford the steep price tag of a seat aboard Russian Soyuz capsules.
Thus the historic mission exemplifies and highlights the burgeoning space tourism and commercial space business initially in low Earth orbit and eventually far beyond.
Inspiration4 is named in recognition of the four-person crew of private civilian astronauts “that will raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, this milestone represents a new era for human spaceflight and exploration,” according to the team.
Following the static fire test, liftoff of Inspiration4 is slated now for Wednesday evening, Sept. 15, at 8:02 p.m. ET (00022 GMT Thursday, Sept. 16) aboard a recycled Falcon 9 at the opening of a 5-hour launch window from Kennedy Space Center’s historic seaside Launch Complex 39A – the same pad used by NASA for many Apollo and Space Shuttle missions.
The 5-hour launch window closes at 1:13 a.m. Thursday morning, Sept. 16.
A back up launch opportunity is available on Thursday evening, Sept. 16 that opens at 8:05 p.m. ET in case of any delay for technical or weather reasons.
Poor space coast weather delayed the launch already from Sept. 14.
The weather forecast is 80% GO but does not account for landing and in flight abort scenarios
Beyond launch weather the launch team will also consider landing weather for the 1st stage booster on a droneship prepositioned in the Atlantic to ensure it can touch down safely and successfully
Furthermore the downrange weather in case of a crew in flight abort into the Atlantic Ocean after liftoff is also a critical consideration the launch team takes into account.
Tropical systems currently swirling in the Atlantic could be problematical.
The four-person crew will spend three days in orbit after liftoff but will not be docking to the International Space Station (ISS).
Therefore there are virtually no constraints on when the Falcon 9 can launch and it is not limited to a small or instantaneous launch window – hence the 5 hour spread.
They will fly aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience – which has flown once before on the Crew-1 mission for NASA to the ISS.
The ‘flight proven’ Falcon 9 1st stage booster B1062 has flown twice before on a pair of GPS satellite delivery missions to orbit for the U.S. Space Force.
Falcon 9 will deliver Crew Dragon and the Inspiration4 crew to an altitude of about a 357-mile-high orbit (570 km), roughly 100 miles (160 km) above the ISS orbit.
Furthermore the crew will fly higher than any humans have flown since NASA’s final shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009 on STS-125.
Check out our photos of the rather sooty rocket and Crew Dragon taken at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Playalinda Beach taken by the Space UpClose team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright.
The adventures of the eclectic crew are being documented in a multipart series currently airing on Netflix about the mission, called “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space.”
The four crew members represent the four mission pillars of leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity.
SpaceX and the crew of Inspiration4 completed a dry dress full rehearsal simulating all launch day activities on Sunday night, Sept. 12 leading up to and ending at T Zero before ignition with no propellants loaded on board.
They were suited up and driven to the pad in Teslas
The brief static fire test of the Falcon 9 first stage engines was completed at 2:30 am ET Monday Sept. 13 after the crew had already departed the pad
My commentary and analysis about Inspiration has been featured in 3 stories so far on WKMG CBS News Orlando and WFTV ABC News Orlando on Sep 13 & 14.
WKMG CBS 6 News Orlando
WFTV ABC 9 News Orlando
Ken is onsite at KSC for live reporting of the Inspiration4 mission.
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, Artemis and NASA missions, SLS, Orion, SpaceX Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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