One is a 29-year-old physician assistant living in Memphis who has survived cancer with a metal rod in his left leg to replace a bone destroyed by a tumor.
Another is a 51-year-old community college professor from Phoenix who fell short in achieving his dream of becoming a NASA astronaut.
The third is a data engineer living in West Washington who was once a counselor at a camp that gives kids the taste of being an astronaut.
The fourth, 38, is a high school dropout who became the billionaire founder of a payment processing company. He is the one who is paying for the space trip, which has never been seen before, where there are no professional astronauts on board.
The crew of four will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida into the SpaceX rocket on Wednesday at 8:02 p.m. They will orbit the planet for three days at a higher altitude than the International Space Station.
Mission, known as Inspiration 4, is the first where the government, by and large, is a bystander. It’s even more ambitious and dangerous than the minutes-long scramble to the edge of space completed in July by two ultrarich business celebrities, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos.
The voyage shows that a private citizen, with at least a hundred million dollars and a few months left, is now able to rent a spacecraft to orbit the planet.
In this case, it’s Jared Isaacman, founder of Shift 4 Payments, which processes payments for restaurants and other businesses. His public profile is much lower than that of Mr. Branson or Mr. Bezos.
When the two traveled in a spacecraft operated by the companies they founded, Mr. Isaacman’s flight is being operated by SpaceX, operated by private company Elon Musk, another billionaire whose company has propelled the space business over the past decade, finding it impossible for competitors to pay lower prices to go into space.
A trip like Inspiration 4 is still only affordable for the rich. But now it is not impossible.
Deciding to spend a slice of his fortune, Mr. Isaacman just didn’t want to bring along some friends. Instead, he opened up opportunities for three people he didn’t know.
The result is a mission with a crew that is more representative of the wider community 29 Haley Arsenaux, a 29-year-old physician assistant in St. Petersburg. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; Sean Proctor, a 51-year-old professor at Black Community College; And, Christopher Sembrowski, 42, a data engineer.
“We are receiving all the same training for all these emergency procedures, as no other NASA astronaut crew has had in the past.” Sembrowski said during an interview last week. It was the last day he and his cremates had spent at their home before heading to Florida for the launch.
“I think we’re more prepared to go into space,” Mr. Sembrowski said.
The varied life stories of the Inspiration 4 crew present a clear contradiction with Mr. Branson and Mr. Bezos, whose tourism was seen by many as a pleasure ride for billionaires.
“The world hasn’t seen how it benefits them,” said Timmy Agnaba, a professor at Space and Society at Arizona State University, about Mr. Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin flights. Branson and Mr. Bezos. “They were like, ‘This is just a playground for the rich.’
With his crew of each, Mr. Isaacman is trying to achieve the goal of science fiction writers and space enthusiasts: to open up space for everyone, not just professional astronauts and wealthy space travelers.
“The difference in this flight is that we have three very normal people who are basically in flight, and they will show us what it means to open this,” said Dr. Aganaba.
Dr. Proctor, who learned to fly as part of NASA’s efforts to become an astronaut, said Ms. Arsene Aux, a cancer survivor, will be the first person with an artificial man to travel to space. “It expands people’s thinking about who an astronaut can be,” she said.
“That’s one reason why representation is important,” said Dr. Proctor, who will be the first black woman to serve as a spacecraft pilot. “And access access matters.”
The mission also reflects a growing role for private venture in space.
John M., founder and former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. “Because it involves humans, it’s high visibility. But in its essence, it is only part of a larger movement. ”
The mission is using the same Falcon 9 rocket and crew Dragon capsule that SpaceX developed to take NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Indeed, the capsule that Mr. will send. Isaacman and his crumates are exactly the same to circle the Earth, named Resilience, which was used for the NASA mission that launched in November last year. He then returned to Earth in May.
For Inspiration 4, Mr. Isaacman named the four seats available in the spacecraft that he hoped the mission would represent: leadership, which was for him, and hope, generosity, and prosperity for his fellow passengers.
When he decided to use the trip to help raise money for St. Jude, who provides free cancer care for children, asked the hospital to suggest a frontline health worker to represent hope. Hospital officials said Ms. Arceneaux. Generosity meeting, which went to Shree. Raised money for Sembrowski, St. Jude by Raffles. Then Mr. Isaacman’s company Shift 4 held a competition asking for entrepreneurial ideas and Dr. Proctor won the Prosperity seat by building a store to sell his space-themed art.
But she noted that Mr. Isaacman was paying all the bills in February, including the Super Bowl commercial that introduced the mission to the Americans.
Mr. Isaacman declined to say how much he would pay, only that he hoped to raise less than $ 200 million for St. Petersburg. Jude.
D We’re. Aganaba said.
The four are in public discussion as they prepare for the flight, including a Netflix documentary, a special issue of Time magazine and an Axios podcast.
Ms. in the Netflix documentary. Arsenox invited friends to watch the Super Bowl – a small gathering that ended with the film crew. “I told my friends I really have a big secret,” she said.
His friends thought he would become a contestant on “The Bachelor”. When Inspiration 4 commercial aired, “One of them joked, ‘Oh, you’re going to space?’ And that’s when I said, ‘Yeah, I’m really going to outer space.’
In March, the four began intensive training, including swinging around a giant centrifuge in Pennsylvania and adapting to the crushing forces experienced during launch and landing. They flew in a plane that mimicked the experience of free fall.
They spent 30 consecutive hours in a crew dragon simulator on SpaceX, undergoing contingency plans for an emergency crowd.
“From the moment it started and throughout the matter, time passed very quickly,” Mr. Said Isaacman. “Like we were, we’ll do it again.”
They did it again with a 10 hour simulation.
Ms. Arsenox will serve as the flight’s medical officer and do some research on the crew during the flight. Dr. Procter is to serve as a pilot, although the spacecraft mostly flies by itself. Mr. Sembrowski will have an assortment of responsibilities as a mission expert, while Mr. Isaacman is the commander of the flight.
That could be years before any other launch like Inspiration 4. The cost of seeing the Earth in orbit will be much higher than most people realize. And while the effort carries risks, many observers are calling for the death of Krista McIfe Leaf, a teacher who was disbanded on the Space Shuttle Challenger during its 1986 launch. It is far from a commercial airline flight and is similar to the orbit of Mount Scaling. Everest.
“I would argue that it’s not really a market,” said private space historian Roger D. Said Lunis, who previously worked at NASA and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. “Basically, this is a fun ride that people are going to do once in a while.”
However, the opportunity that is also available is a major shift.
For decades, astronauts have generally been government employees – people who worked for NASA or for the Soviet space program who launched their government-operated rocket.
During the Obama administration, NASA decided to hire private companies to build spacecraft for space station travel. He chose Boeing and SpaceX for the job.
By capitalizing on a previous contract to send cargo to the space station, SpaceX had already captured an impressive share of the market for launching commercial satellites with its Falcon 9 rocket.
NASA hopes the federal investment in the Crew Dragon Capsule could similarly encourage a larger market to take people into space. That path, however, remains uncertain. For now, non-commercial space travelers come in two groups: people with a lot of money and people in the entertainment business.
A Houston company, Axiom Space, is set to take off early next year using SpaceX’s Resilience Capsule. The mission will take three people on a multi-day visit to the International Space Station, paying $ 55 million each.
The Discovery Channel reality television competition, “Who Wants to Be an Astronaut?”, Offers a trip to the space station on the next Axiom mission as a prize.
The Russian space agency has resumed selling seats on its Soyuz rocket for space station travel. In October, a Russian actress, Yulia Peresild and filmmaker Klim Shipenko may go to the space station to shoot scenes from the film. They can be followed months later by Japanese fashion entrepreneur Yusaku Maizawa.
Mr. Maizawa’s 12-day voyage will be the prelude to a more ambitious voyage around the moon, which is expected to launch in a few years in the currently under development giant SpaceX Starship rocket. This trip called Dear Moon will probably be the closest to the spirit of Inspiration 4. The competition to select eight people with him attracted a million applicants, and Mr. Maizawa is currently going through the finalists.
Ahead of the flight, the crew said during a news conference Tuesday in the hangar of SpaceX at the Kennedy Space Center that they are confident and do not feel the pre-launch tweak.
Dr. I. Proctor said. “Let’s do that.”