Washington: SpaceX announced that this year’s goal is to launch the first national flight mission to Earth orbit. The mission is led by a high-tech billionaire who plans to extract one of the points on the spacecraft.
Entrepreneur Jared Isaacman will join three other novice astronauts on a multi-day space tour, including a lucky drawing winner.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure: a journey into outer space on the first all-civilian space flight,” according to a website dedicated to the mission.
SpaceX, the company started by Elon Musk, said Isaacman is “donating the three seats alongside him… to individuals from the general public who will be announced in the weeks ahead.”
Launch of the Dragon spacecraft is being targeted for “no earlier than the fourth quarter of this year”, the firm said.
One seat will be given to a staff member at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which treats childhood cancer and pediatric diseases, and the second seat will be drawn from people who enter the raffle and encourage them to donate.
A jury made up of entrepreneurs who use the e-commerce tools of Isaacman’s Shift4 Payments will select one third.
The statement said that all three crew members “will receive commercial astronaut training for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft by SpaceX,” as well as orbital mechanics and stress testing, including operation in microgravity or zero gravity.
SpaceX said that during the one-day flight, astronauts will orbit the earth every 90 minutes.
After the mission is over, the spacecraft will re-enter the atmosphere, causing water to fall off the coast of Florida.
In mid-November 2020, four astronauts were successfully brought into orbit by the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule and boarded the International Space Station.
Since the launch of the space shuttle nearly 40 years ago, the “Dragon” capsule became the first spacecraft certified by NASA a week ago. Its launch vehicle is the reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
At the end of its missions, the Crew Dragon deploys parachutes and then splashes down in water, just as in the Apollo era.
NASA turned to SpaceX and Boeing after shuttering the checkered Space Shuttle program in 2011, which failed in its main objectives of making space travel affordable and safe.
The agency will have spent more than $8 billion on the Commercial Crew program by 2024, with the hope that the private sector can take care of NASA’s needs in “low Earth orbit” so it is freed up to focus on return missions to the Moon and then on to Mars.
In addition to its first commercial mission, SpaceX also plans to conduct two manned flights for NASA in 2021, including one flight in the spring and four cargo missions in the next 15 months.