Commander Jared Isaacman and his teammates Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski pose with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft on August 30 at the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida. Credit: SpaceX / Inspiration4

The four private citizens who will fly into orbit later this month on a chartered SpaceX capsule visited their spacecraft at Cape Canaveral this week for fit checks.

Authorities on Wednesday released the first images of the dome attached to the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft, a new addition that will give the crew a breathtaking view of planet Earth at an altitude of over 350 miles.

The four-person crew, led by billionaire Jared Isaacman, donned their SpaceX-made flight suits and strapped into the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft on Monday inside SpaceX’s Dragon processing facility at the Cape Canaveral space station.

The mission is called Inspiration4, and it will be the first fully commercial manned space flight to orbit the Earth, without a government-employed professional astronaut on board. The mission is the centerpiece of a charity project designed in part to raise $ 200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a non-profit institution dedicated to the treatment of children with cancer and other pediatric illnesses.

The launch, scheduled for September 15 on a Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A, is SpaceX’s next mission from the space coast of Florida.

Isaacman, 38, is a civilian pilot experienced in flying high performance fighter jets. He’s paying for the mission – SpaceX charges around $ 50 million per seat – and will command the three-day Inspiration4 flight on the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft, which he designed to be fully automated, with the crew involved only in the operation. of the capsule. in case of emergency.

The commander will be joined on the mission by Sian Proctor, 51, a private pilot and science educator with a master’s degree in geology, Hayley Arceneaux, a 29-year-old assistant physician in St. Jude, and Chris Sembroski, a 42- data engineer one year old from the Seattle area.

Proctor and Sembroski obtained their places through a competition and a lottery. Arceneaux, a survivor of childhood cancer, was named to the crew to represent “hope”.

Inspiration4 crew members trained in a simulator at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., Flew in fighter jets, and flew in a zero-gravity trainer for a taste of what they will experience in orbit.

The Crew Equipment Interface Testing, or CEIT, is one of the last major milestones for the Inspiration4 team ahead of launch. CEIT, which gives astronauts the ability to see and interact with the equipment they will use in space, is a SpaceX-adopted holdover from NASA’s manned space flight program.

Isaacman called CEIT a “dragon test drive” and tweeted that “all systems have checked themselves well.” The Crew Dragon Resilience reusable capsule is now mounted on its disposable trunk, where the energy-generating solar panels and the ship’s cooling radiators are located.

The Inspiration4 mission is SpaceX’s fourth crew mission since NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken stepped into orbit on the company’s Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft in May 2020. SpaceX developed the Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of a cost-sharing partnership with NASA.

The Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft is set to launch on its second flight, after a six-month stay on the International Space Station that ended with four astronauts landing on water in May. Since the capsule returned to Earth four months ago, SpaceX technicians at Cape Canaveral have refurbished the spacecraft for another trip to orbit.

SpaceX plans to launch a third human-rated Dragon spacecraft for launch on October 31 with the upcoming NASA crew flight to the space station. The company claims that each Crew Dragon is rated for at least five missions.

Commander Jared Isaacman poses inside the dome window mounted on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Resilience space station, ready to fly on the three-day Inspiration4 mission. Credit: Inspiration4

Unlike SpaceX’s contracted NASA crew missions, the Inspiration4 flight will not make it to the space station. Instead, the Crew Dragon capsule will fly a Falcon 9 rocket into an orbit about 357 miles (575 kilometers) above Earth, higher than astronauts have flown since the last maintenance mission of the space shuttle to the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009.

Before, during and after their three-day flight, Isaacman and his teammates will participate in several human health experiments sponsored by SpaceX, the Translational Research Institute for Space Health at Baylor College of Medicine and investigators from Weill Cornell Medicine, according to a statement. Press.

Crew members will also participate in awareness and fundraising activities for St. Jude.

Private astronauts will also have spectacular views of Earth through a bubble-shaped window that SpaceX installed in the front of the capsule, replacing a docking adapter used for missions to the International Space Station.

Officials affiliated with the mission released the first images of the SpaceX-built cupola window on Wednesday, showing each of the Inspiration4 crew members inside the glass structure at SpaceX headquarters in California, before that the company is shipping the dome to Florida for integration with the Crew Dragon capsule.

“I have never seen an organization more innovative and impressive than SpaceX,” Isaacman tweeted Wednesday. “Six months between the idea and the material fully analyzed and ready for flight! He tweeted, referring to the dome.

“They make science fiction a reality every day and Inspiration4 is proud to be a very small part of the history they make.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.

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