Elon Musk‘s SpaceX plans to launch the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit later this year, the aerospace firm announced on Monday.
The journey will last for several days and the spacecraft will do a full orbit around the Earth every 90 minutes. This should give the passengers plenty of opportunities for sight-seeing before re-entering our atmosphere for a water landing off the coast of Florida.
Tech tycoon Jared Isaacman will command the Dragon astronaut capsule and donate three other seats to members of the public.
“While a historic journey awaits us in space, I hope this mission reinforces how far inspiration can take us and the extraordinary achievements it leads to here on Earth,” he said.
The 37-year-old founder of transactions processing firm Shift4 Payments is also a pilot who holds a world record for a Speed-Around-The-World flight.
Isaacman said he aims to use the mission to raise $200 million for St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
He hasn’t revealed how much he’s paying for the trip, but has committed $100 million of his own money to the fundraising initiative. He’s also promised to save a seat onboard the Dragon for a randomly-selected donor to the pediatric center.
Joining them on the journey will be a former patient of St Jude’s who’s now a medical worker at the hospital, and a business owner who uses Shift4 Payments. Their names will be announced in the coming weeks.
The mission was named Inspiration4 in recognition of the four-person crew’s efforts to raise funds for the hospital and herald a new era for human spaceflight.
SpaceX said the crew will undergo training on the Dragon and the Falcon 9 launch vehicle on operating in microgravity, zero gravity, and other forms of stress testing:
They will go through emergency preparedness training, spacesuit and spacecraft ingress and egress exercises, as well as partial and full mission simulations.
Musk promised that the voyage isn’t just a joy-ride for the rich.
“It’s like when America went to the moon in ’69. It wasn’t just a few people — humanity went to the moon,” he told NBC News.
SpaceX aims to launch Inspiration4 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the fourth quarter of this year.