SpaceX is making final preparations for the Wednesday night launch that will send the first fully civilian crew into orbit.
With the spectacular backdrop of their Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the crew seemed relaxed as they engaged in a 50-minute question and answer session (below), responding to a variety of questions from reporters.
The Inspiration4 mission is led by Shift4 Payments founder Jared Isaacman, who secured the first fully civilian flight in a private deal with SpaceX. Isaacman has always said that his primary goal is to use the mission to raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
Flying alongside him will be Hayley Arceneaux, a 29-year-old medical assistant who is poised to set a host of records during the mission, including the first bone cancer survivor to travel into space, the first person to head into orbit with a prosthetic body. part, and the youngest American to orbit the Earth.
The other two crew members include trained pilot Dr. Sian Proctor, who will become the first black mission pilot on a space mission and the fourth black woman to travel to space, and Christopher Sembroski, an Air Force veteran. from the US who works for Lockheed Martin and who acquired his seat thanks to his support of St. Jude.
The crew will fly aboard the first Crew Dragon spacecraft to feature an observatory dome at its tip, a possible design modification as the vehicle will not dock with the International Space Station (ISS) and therefore will not needs a locking mechanism.
When Crew Dragon reaches orbit, it will be the first time SpaceX has had three Dragon spacecraft in orbit at the same time, with two more currently docked on the ISS.
The Inspiration4 mission will also send Crew Dragon to its highest altitude to date, orbiting 358 miles (575 km) above Earth. That’s higher than the Hubble Space Telescope, which orbits Earth at 335 miles (540 km), and much higher than the International Space Station, which orbits 253 miles (408 km). With that in mind, the four space travelers are ready for spectacular views of our planet and beyond.
But there will be a lot of work to be done during the three-day mission besides just taking in the stunning scenery, as the crew members will also spend time conducting various science experiments for researchers on Earth.
The mission will mark the fourth crewed outing for SpaceX and its Crew Dragon capsule, and the question and answer session will reveal that the company would like to move towards launching up to six manned spacecraft per year.
But for now all eyes are on Wednesday’s long-awaited release. For a live stream of the early stages of the mission, check out this Digital Trends article that includes everything you need to know.