Elon Musk promises to donate $50 million to the Inspiration4 fundraiser for a children’s hospital, helping it smash its $200 million goal

Musk   Photo by Hannibal Hanschke Pool:Getty Images
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

  • Elon Musk pledged to donate millions for a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
  • The goal of the Inspiration4 spaceflight by Musk’s company, SpaceX, was to raise $200 million.
  • “Count me in for $50M,” Musk said in a tweet on Saturday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Elon Musk vowed to donate $50 million to SpaceX’s Inspiration4 fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“Count me in for $50M,” Musk said in a tweet on Saturday upon the crew’s re-entry back to Earth.

The main goal of the Inspiration4 mission was to raise $200 million for St. Jude, where one of the crew members works as a physician assistant.

The fundraiser had raised $160 million before Musk pledged to contribute to the campaign.

The historic Insipiration4 launched Wednesday evening from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

It had four people on board: Jared Isaacman, a billionaire businessman; Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant and childhood cancer survivor; Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran; and Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist and science communication specialist.

Isaacman, commander of the spaceflight, donated $100 million to St. Jude. The mission had raised another $60.2 million before Musk’s pledge surpassed the goal, raising the total to more than $210 million, CNBC reported.

Following his donation, the crew expressed their gratitude toward Musk on Twitter.

“This brings tears to my eyes. Thank you @elonmusk for this generous donation toward our $200 million dollar fundraising goal for @StJude!!!” said Arceneaux.

As Insider’s Kate Duffy reported, the crew will auction off items they took on their three-day trip around the Earth to further raise money for the hospital. These include a ukulele, artwork, and NFTs.

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SpaceX’s first space tourists have returned to Earth, splashing down inside the Crew Dragon spaceship

inspiration4 crew members in spacesuits side by side with image of parachutes lowering crew dragon spaceship into ocean splashdown
The Inspiration4 crew splashed down after a three-day spaceflight.

SpaceX and its four passengers have emerged victorious at the conclusion of the world’s first all-tourist flight to orbit.

The company’s Crew Dragon spaceship splashed down off the coast of Florida on Saturday at 7:06 p.m. ET, carrying four amateur spacefarers: billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman, geoscientist and science communicator Dr. Sian Proctor, physician-assistant Hayley Arceneaux, and engineer Chris Sembroski. None of them are professional astronauts.

“That was a heck of a ride for us, and we’re just getting started,” Isaacman said on the livestream after the splashdown.

The unlikely quartet came together after Isaacman chartered the flight from SpaceX and gave away three seats through a raffle and fund-raising partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He called the mission Inspiration4.

The motley crew spent three days orbiting Earth aboard the Dragon capsule. They flew as high as 367 miles (590 kilometers) – farther from the planet than anyone has traveled since the Space Shuttle era. They took cognitive tests and scanned their organs with an ultrasound for scientific research. Sembroski played ukelele. Proctor made art. They all admired the views

On Saturday evening, the Crew Dragon fired its thrusters to push itself into a high-speed plummet to Earth. Tiles on the spaceship’s underbelly protected its passengers as friction superheated the atmosphere around it to a 3,500-degree-Fahrenheit plasma.

A few miles above Earth’s surface, parachutes ballooned from the capsule, likely giving the passengers a significant jolt as the spaceship slowed its fall.

The Crew Dragon dropped into the Atlantic Ocean and bobbed there like a toasted marshmallow, caked in soot from the fiery descent. It’s not the first time this particular capsule, named Resilience, has weathered such a fall: It’s the same ship that flew SpaceX’s first full astronaut crew to the International Space Station for NASA last year, then brought them home in May.

Recovery crews in boats swarmed the scene to pull the spaceship out of the water and help the travelers climb out.

SpaceX has opened the doors to private space tourism

Inspiration4 passengers sit inside crew dragon spaceship seats wearing white spacesuits
The Inspiration4 crew inside a model Crew Dragon spaceship. Left to right: Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman, and Hayley Arceneaux.

The Inspiration4 crew’s safe return is a major step in a new era of space tourism.

NASA didn’t run this mission; SpaceX did, to Isaacman’s specifications. He chose the length of the flight, the altitude, the crew, and their activities in orbit. He even contributed his own idea – a climb up Mount Rainier – to their nearly six-month training regimen.

SpaceX already has another tourist flight lined up for January. For that mission, called AX-1, the company Axiom Space chartered a Crew Dragon to take customers to the space station for eight days.

The AX-1 crew includes real-estate investor Larry Connor, Canadian investor Mark Pathy, and former Israeli fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe. Axiom Space’s vice president, former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, will command the mission.

Ax1 crew members: Commander Michael López-Alegría, mission pilot Larry Connor, mission specialist Mark Pathy, mission specialist Eytan Stibbe
The Ax-1 crew members, left to right: Michael López-Alegría, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, and Eytan Stibbe.

For now, SpaceX is the only entity that can launch people to orbit from the US. In October, it’s set to launch another astronaut crew for NASA – the third of six Crew Dragon flights the agency has purchased.

SpaceX developed this spaceship through NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, a competition that awarded funding to facilitate the development of commercial spacecraft.

The program also funded Boeing to develop a human-rated spaceship, but that vehicle has been bogged down in technical issues and delays. It still needs to complete an uncrewed test flight to the ISS before it can fly people.

inspiration4 rocket launch streak of light arcing through the sky
The Inspiration4 mission launches from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, September 15, 2021.

In the meantime, SpaceX ended the US’s nine-year hiatus in domestic human spaceflight in May 2020, when Crew Dragon flew two NASA astronauts to the ISS. NASA has also tapped SpaceX to land its next astronauts on the moon.

Elon Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002, aims to someday send the company’s vehicles all the way to Mars and build a settlement there.

Isaacman shares that vision.

“I’m a true believer,” Isaacman said in a February press conference. “I drank the Kool-Aid in terms of the grand ambition for humankind being a multi-planetary species. And I think that we all want to live in a Star Wars, Star Trek world where people are jumping in their spacecraft, and I know that that’s going to come. But there has to be that first step, which is what Inspiration4 represents.”

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SpaceX’s Inspiration4 crew members take call from Tom Cruise while soaring miles above the Earth

Inspiration4 passengers sit inside crew dragon spaceship seats wearing white spacesuits
The Inspiration4 crew sits inside a model Crew Dragon spaceship. Left to right: Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman, and Hayley Arceneaux.

SpaceX’s Inspiration4 crew spoke with actor Tom Cruise on Thursday to share details about their experience on the civilian mission.

The Inspiration4 Twitter account shared a “Top Gun” GIF followed by a caption that wrote: “Rook, Nova, Hanks, and Leo spoke to @TomCruise sharing their experience from space. Maverick, you can be our wingman anytime.”

Maverick is the call sign character Cruise plays in the film.

No specific details of the conversation between Cruise and the crew were released, AP reported.

Aside from Cruise, the four crew members – Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski – chatted to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

In a tweet on Thursday, Musk announced that he had spoken to them. “All is well,” Musk said in his Twitter post, without mentioning any specific details about the conversation.

The crew also spoke to patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, on Thursday, according to a tweet the hospital sent on Friday morning.

Inspiration4 is raising money for the hospital by auctioning off items, including a ukulele and an issue of TIME magazine, which they took into space.

It is the first spaceflight carrying private crew, which launched on Wednesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a Crew Dragon spaceship.

In space, the crew members will conduct scientific research, make art, and enjoy the views.

The flight is slated to end Saturday, culminating in a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Sam Adams will craft beer using hops sent into Earth’s orbit on SpaceX’s Inspiration4

sam adams space beer
  • Sam Adams will brewing a beer out of the hops sent into orbit onboard SpaceX’s Inspiration4.
  • The company arranged to exclusively obtain the supply after a Twitter callout from SpaceX and Jared Isaacman.
  • Breweries and agricultural scientists have sent ingredients to space before to analyze the effects of microgravity on beer production.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Besides a ukulele, some poetry, and NFTs, the all-civilian crew of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission also brought along 66 pounds of hops, which will be given to Samuel Adams Boston Brewery to concoct a limited-edition “space beer.”

Jared Isaacman, the billionaire owner of Fast4Company funding the Inspiration4 mission, sent a tweet in August calling to auction off the hops load to a brewery to benefit St. Jude children’s hospital.

“Space hops! Far out,” the Sam Adams Twitter account tweeted back. “We’ll take this to the brewery team.”

The company got its head brewer, David Grinell, on the phone with the Inspiration4 team prior to Wednesday’s launch to iron out the details of the beer production, a spokesperson told Insider.

As part of the hops acquisition, Sam Adams has also agreed to donate $100,000 to St. Jude toward a goal set by Isaacman. Isaacman aims to raise a total of $200 million for St. Jude for pediatric-cancer research.

“We’ve actually always talked about sending beer to space,” Matt Withington, director or marketing at Sam Adams told Insider. “Jared’s tweet, and the immediate response from our drinkers, signaled the right moment for us to jump on and fulfill this dream.”

SpaceX’s first all-civilian crew launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday. The four crew members will spend three days in Earth’s orbit performing scientific research, making art, and taking in the views.

Insider calculated the cost to transport a pound of cargo on the Crew Dragon spaceship is about $5,500, according to numbers provided by Space.com. That makes the cost of sending the 66 pounds of hops around $361,000. Sam Adams has not yet determined a price for the brewed beer once the hops come back down to Earth.

This is far from the first crew to take part in this alcohol space race. Coors sponsored an experiment in 1994 to test fermentation in space. Japanese brewer Sapporo produced a $110 six-pack using barley seeds send up to space by Japanese and Russian researchers in 2006. Anheuser-Busch has sent several samples of barley to the International Space Station, the latest in 2019, to determine the effects of microgravity on barley seeds. 12 bottles of Bordeaux wine were also sent to space in 2019, which were expected to be valued at $1 million per bottle.

Scientists and brewing experts are still unsure about the definitive effects of a microgravity environment ingredients used to make beer. One University of Colorado research project found that beer brewed in space can contain a higher level of alcohol than on the ground. The Boston brewery says it is excited to see what kind of beer it can brew with Inspriation4’s hops.

The currently unnamed Sam Adams-produced beer, which the company says will probably be a traditional West Coast IPA, will go on sale later this fall, according to the company.

Read the original article on Business Insider

SpaceX is about to launch 4 space tourists into Earth’s orbit. Watch it live Wednesday night.

inspiration4 crew poses in front of falcon 9 rocket that's laying sideways on runway at night
The Inspiration4 crew poses in front of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spaceship that will launch them into space.

For the first time ever, a spaceship carrying only inexperienced civilians is about to launch into Earth’s orbit.

After just over five months of training, four regular people are set to climb aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and blast into space atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday. Liftoff is scheduled for sometime after 8 p.m. ET, weather permitting. SpaceX plans to broadcast the launch live starting at 4 p.m. ET, via the embed below.

None of thecrew members are professional astronauts – they’ll launch from NASA’s facilities, but the agency has little to do with it otherwise. Instead, this is SpaceX’s show, the company’s first fully private human spaceflight.

The customer – billionaire Jared Isaacman – picked the trajectory and chartered the Crew Dragon capsule directly from the rocket company. Isaacman hasn’t shared how much he paid, though he did say the total came in under $200 million.

“As long as it’s safe, whatever Jared would like to do, it’s up to him,” Elon Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002, said during a press conference announcing the mission in February.

Isaacman decided to fly for three days and get up to 355 miles above the ground – farther from Earth than any human has traveled since 2009, when astronauts last visited the Hubble Space Telescope. The spaceship will orbit Earth but won’t dock to the space station.

Isaacman invited three others to join him.

Inspiration4 passengers sit inside crew dragon spaceship seats wearing white spacesuits
The Inspiration4 crew inside a model Crew Dragon spaceship. Left to right: Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman, and Hayley Arceneaux.

Hayley Arceneaux is there to represent her employer, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which is benefitting from fundraising efforts connected to the mission. Arceneaux received treatment at St. Jude’s when she had bone cancer as a child. She has a rod in her leg as a result, and she’ll be the first person with a prosthetic to go to space.

Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, won her role as pilot by submitting a video to a contest for a seat. Proctor was a finalist for NASA’s 2009 astronaut class and has served as an analogue astronaut in simulations of long-term Mars missions on the ground.

Chris Sembroski, an engineer at Lockheed Martin, got his seat after a friend who won the raffle for it backed out, offering it to him instead. Sembroski has flown for the US Air Force and been a counselor at Space Camp.

That motley crew will spend their three days in space collecting data for scientific research, enjoying the views, and likely doing some publicity. Their mission is named Inspiration4 – partly for its designation as the first fully private amateur spaceflight, and partly as a nod to Shift4, the payment-processing company that Isaacman founded after dropping out of high school.

SpaceX flew its first astronauts for NASA last year and has since launched two other crews to the space station. The company already has a second group of private tourists lined up for next year as it leads the charge into a new era of commercial human spaceflight.

This is not like the flights other billionaires have taken

falcon 9 rocket launches at night
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying four astronauts launches from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, April 23, 2021.

The Inspiration4 mission’s five-hour launch window opens at 8:02 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Since it’s not meeting up with anything in orbit, the liftoff time is flexible. If the rocket can’t launch on Wednesday, a backup window opens at 8:05 p.m. ET on Thursday.

This is nothing like the flights two other billionaires – Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson – took in July. Both of those vehicles skimmed the edge of space for a few minutes before falling back down, since their rockets were too small to make the push into orbit.

When Inspiration4 lifts off, by contrast, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will push the spaceship close to orbit, then the booster will detach and fall back to Earth to fly again another day.

inspiration4 crew members pose in spacesuits in front of grey wall
The Inspiration4 crew members pose in their SpaceX spacesuits.

After that, the rocket’s upper stage should give the Crew Dragon a final push before it, too, breaks away. That would leave the Crew Dragon and its passengers drifting above our planet 13 minutes after liftoff.

After that, they can strip off their spacesuits. The crew plans to eat cold pizza for dinner.

SpaceX replaced the port its spaceship usually uses to dock with the ISS with a rounded window – a cupola. This glass dome has never flown to space. It’s designed for a spaceship passenger’s most memorable experience: the views.

crew dragon spaceship above earth with glass dome cupola beneath nosecone
An illustration of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship with a glass “cupola” at its nose.

Come Saturday or early Sunday, the Crew Dragon will fire its thrusters to push itself into the atmosphere. This will initiate a high-speed, fiery plummet. Tiles on the spaceship’s underbelly must protect its passengers as friction superheats the air around it to a 3,500-degree-Fahrenheit plasma. Then the spaceship must deploy parachutes to drift to an ocean splashdown.

Crew Dragon has carried astronauts on this return journey twice without incident.

SpaceX developed the spaceship for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, a competition that awarded funding to facilitate the development of commercial spacecraft. The goal was to make human spaceflight from the US possible again, since no spaceship had launched people from the US since 2011, when the Space Shuttle Program ended. SpaceX broke that dry spell when it flew its first astronauts in May 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

SpaceX is about to launch 4 inexperienced civilians into Earth’s orbit. Watch it live on Wednesday.

inspiration4 crew poses in front of falcon 9 rocket that's laying sideways on runway at night
The Inspiration4 crew poses in front of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spaceship that will launch them into space.

For the first time ever, a spaceship carrying only inexperienced civilians is about to launch into Earth’s orbit.

After just over five months of training, four regular people are set to climb aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and blast into space atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday. Liftoff is scheduled for sometime after 8 p.m. ET, weather permitting.

None of these crew members are professional astronauts – they’ll launch from NASA’s facilities, but the agency has little to do with it otherwise. Instead, this is SpaceX’s show, the company’s first fully private human spaceflight. The customer – billionaire Jared Isaacman – picked the trajectory and chartered the Crew Dragon capsule directly from the rocket company. Isaacman hasn’t shared how much he paid, though he did say the total came in under $200 million.

“As long as it’s safe, whatever Jared would like to do, it’s up to him,” Elon Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002, said during a press conference announcing the mission in February.

Isaacman decided to fly for three days and get up to 355 miles above the ground – farther from Earth than any human has traveled since 2009, when astronauts last visited the Hubble Space Telescope. The spaceship will orbit Earth but won’t dock to the space station.

Isaacman invited three others to join him.

Inspiration4 passengers sit inside crew dragon spaceship seats wearing white spacesuits
The Inspiration4 crew inside a model Crew Dragon spaceship. Left to right: Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman, and Hayley Arceneaux.

Hayley Arceneaux is there to represent her employer, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which is benefitting from fundraising efforts connected to the mission. Arceneaux received treatment at St. Jude’s when she had bone cancer as a child. She has a rod in her leg as a result, and she’ll be the first person with a prosthetic to go to space.

Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, won her role as pilot by submitting a video to a contest for a seat. Proctor was a finalist for NASA’s 2009 astronaut class and has served as an analogue astronaut in simulations of long-term Mars missions on the ground.

Chris Sembroski, an engineer at Lockheed Martin, got his seat after a friend who won the raffle for it backed out, offering it to him instead. Sembroski has flown for the US Air Force and been a counselor at Space Camp.

That motley crew will spend their three days in space collecting data for scientific research, enjoying the views, and likely doing some publicity. Their mission is named Inspiration4 – partly for its designation as the first fully private amateur spaceflight, and partly as a nod to Shift4, the payment-processing company that Isaacman founded after dropping out of high school.

SpaceX flew its first astronauts for NASA last year and has since launched two other crews to the space station. The company already has a second group of private tourists lined up for next year as it leads the charge into a new era of commercial human spaceflight.

Watch SpaceX launch its first tourists live

falcon 9 rocket launches at night
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying four astronauts launches from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, April 23, 2021.

The mission’s five-hour launch window opens at 8:02 p.m. ET on Wednesday, though the liftoff time is flexible.

SpaceX plans to broadcast the launch live starting at 4 p.m. ET, via the embed below.

If the mission can’t launch on Wednesday, a backup window opens at 8:05 p.m. ET on Thursday.

This is nothing like the flights two other billionaires – Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson – took in July. Both of those vehicles skimmed the edge of space for a few minutes before falling back down, since their rockets were too small to make the push into orbit.

When Inspiration4 lifts off, by contrast, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will push the spaceship close to orbit, then the booster will detach and fall back to Earth to fly again another day.

inspiration4 crew members pose in spacesuits in front of grey wall
The Inspiration4 crew members pose in their SpaceX spacesuits.

After that, the rocket’s upper stage should give the Crew Dragon a final push before it, too, breaks away. That would leave the Crew Dragon and its passengers drifting above our planet 13 minutes after liftoff.

After that, they can strip off their spacesuits. The crew plans to eat cold pizza for dinner.

Since Inspiration4 won’t go to the space station, SpaceX replaced the port the spaceship usually uses for docking with a rounded window – a cupola. This glass dome has never flown to space. It’s designed for a spaceship passenger’s most memorable experience: the views.

crew dragon spaceship above earth with glass dome cupola beneath nosecone
An illustration of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship with a glass “cupola” at its nose.

Then, come Saturday or early Sunday, the Crew Dragon will fire its thrusters to push itself into the atmosphere. This will initiate a high-speed, fiery plummet. Tiles on the spaceship’s underbelly must protect its passengers as friction superheats the air around it to a 3,500-degree-Fahrenheit plasma. Then the spaceship must deploy parachutes to drift to an ocean splashdown.

Crew Dragon has carried astronauts on this return journey twice without incident.

SpaceX developed the spaceship for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, a competition that awarded funding to facilitate the development of commercial spacecraft. The goal was to make human spaceflight from the US possible again, since no spaceship had launched people from the US since 2011, when the Space Shuttle Program ended. SpaceX broke that dry spell when it flew its first astronauts in May 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Photos show how SpaceX’s first civilian crew trained by climbing Mount Rainier and flying jets. They launch Wednesday.

inspiration4 crew members screaming joy floating weightless inside plane
The Crew-2 members on a parabolic flight that simulates zero gravity. Left to right: Chris Sembroski, Hayley Arceneaux, Jared Isaacman, and Sian Proctor.

SpaceX is about to attempt a new first: launching a spaceship full of people who aren’t professional astronauts into orbit.

The four-person crew consists of a billionaire, a physician-assistant, an engineer, and a scientist. On Wednesday, weather permitting, they’ll climb aboard a Crew Dragon spaceship atop a Falcon 9 rocket, then roar into space. They’re set to orbit Earth for three days, enjoying the views and collecting data for scientific research, then plummet back through the atmosphere and parachute to a safe landing. They call their mission Inspiration4.

Billionaire Jared Isaacman chartered the flight from SpaceX and is both footing the bill and commanding the Crew Dragon spaceship. He gave the other three seats to Hayley Arceneaux, who survived bone cancer as a child and now works at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran who works for Lockheed Martin; and Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist who serves as an analogue astronaut in simulations of long-term Mars missions.

The crew isn’t just climbing into the spaceship like you or I might board a plane. They spent five months training – studying manuals, pushing their bodies to new limits, and practicing for worst-case scenarios. They completed the training, which is largely based on NASA’s program, last week.

Even though Isaacman has spent thousands of hours flying jets and ex-military aircraft, he told Insider that the astronaut training was “more intense” than he expected.

jared isaacman and sian proctor co-pilot a jet
Jared Isaacman (left) and Sian Proctor (right) fly a fighter jet together, May 23, 2021.

“I definitely underestimated it to some extent,” he said.

When billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson each took their own rocket rides – flights which skimmed the edge of space but did not enter orbit – neither revealed the details of their training. But the Inspiration4 crew has been sharing its preparations publicly, offering a glimpse into what it takes to prepare amateurs for spaceflight.

Here’s what they’ve revealed.

Step one: Meet your rocket and watch it launch

hayley arceneaux gestures at distant spacex falcon 9 rocket on launchpad
Hayley Arceneaux gestures at a distant Falcon 9 rocket on Launch Complex 39A, April 21, 2021

Once the Inspiration4 crew was assembled, one of the first things they did together was watch SpaceX launch its third set of professional astronauts towards the International Space Station.

Arceneaux had never seen a rocket launch before.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off in the night with crew-2 mission
SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission lifts off aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, April 23, 2021.

“I thought I was gonna have anxiety before the launch, but it was actually really serene,” she told Axios reporter Miriam Kramer for the podcast “How It Happened.”

The soon-to-be spacefarers used a centrifuge to simulate the feeling of launch

chris sembroski sitting inside small white chamber for centrifuge training
Chris Sembroski sits in a centrifuge chamber on March 31, 2021

A centrifuge spins really fast to create centrifugal force that pushes things outwards, much like a salad spinner or the spinning carnival ride that presses you against a wall. That force mimics the feeling of launch, when the pull of gravity on your body feels three times its normal strength. Many astronauts and pilots use centrifuges in their training.

Isaacman took his teammates up Mount Rainier

inspiration4 crew members climb mount rainier in snow ice with trekking poles
The Inspiration4 crew climbs Mount Rainier, May 1, 2021.

Washington’s Mount Rainier is a 14,410-foot active volcano covered in glaciers, with punishing weather and hazardous crevasses. Summiting requires ice axes and crampons. So Isaacman decided it would be the perfect place to break the ice with his new crewmates. They climbed the mountain together in early May.

inspiration4 crew members celebrate while climbing mount rainier in snow ice
The Inspiration4 crew poses on Mount Rainier, May 1, 2021.

“They built some mental toughness. They got comfortable being uncomfortable, which is pretty important,” Isaacman said. “Food sucks on the mountain. Temperatures can suck on the mountain. Well, that’s no different than Dragon. We don’t get to dial up and down the thermostat … And I can tell you the food isn’t great in space, from what we’ve tasted so far.”

After camping, it was time to hit the books

inspiration4 crew pose in front of display falcon 9 rocket
The Inspiration4 crew poses in front of a Falcon 9 rocket at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, June 14, 2021.

After Mount Rainier, the crew flew to SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California to begin training in earnest.

“Every day was pretty much a 12-hour day, and then you were getting back to the hotel room, and you’re just studying. That was kind of the intense academic portion of the training,” Isaacman said.

They had to learn about the parts of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spaceship, how everything works, and what can go wrong.

“We have like 3,000 pages across 100 different manuals. It was a lot. I don’t think any of us really predicted that,” Isaacman said.

Then the crew practiced flying Crew Dragon in simulations

sian proctor wearing a headset looking at a screen in dark blue room
Sian Proctor on a visit to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, July 1, 2021.

Inside a mock Crew Dragon model, the Inspiration4 passengers practiced the procedure for launches and landings. Once they got used to how things are supposed to work when all goes smoothly, trainers started adding issues and spacecraft malfunctions to the simulation.

Some of these exercises involved all four crew members, but some were just for Isaacman and Proctor – the commander and pilot of the mission. Eventually, they were doing full simulations with mission control and a launch director.

In early August, the crew did a grueling 30-hour simulation

nasa astronauts doug hurley bob behnken in spacex spacesuit sit inside crew dragon capsule in front of blue control screens
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley practice in SpaceX’s flight simulator, March 19, 2020.

Isaacman, Proctor, Arceneaux, and Sembroski put on their spacesuits, climbed in the simulation model of the Crew Dragon, and sealed themselves inside for the 30-hour ordeal. Nobody knew what was coming, not even the mission controllers. A simulation supervisor had pre-programmed everything.

They practiced a regular launch, with a weather delay included. They ate a meal and slept. But as their simulated mission began to reenter the atmosphere and fall back to Earth, all hell broke loose.

inspiration4 crew members pose in white grey spacex spacesuits in front of crew dragon spaceship
The Inspiration4 crew, in their new spacesuits, pose in front of a Crew Dragon spaceship model.

The Axios podcast recounts what happened. In the simulation, as the Crew Dragon pushed itself into Earth’s atmosphere, three computers failed. The crew lost touch with mission control. Then the capsule’s parachutes wouldn’t deploy.

“Now you’re blind, you can’t talk, and there’s no way for the chutes to come out. There’s also no way for Dragon to stabilize itself during essentially a hypersonic reentry,” Isaacman told Kramer.

dragon v2 reentry
An animation shows how the Crew Dragon capsule super-heats the material around it as it plummets through Earth’s atmosphere.

When they got their bearings, the crew realized the simulation was sending their hypothetical capsule a continent away from its intended splashdown site.

“It felt very real. You’re living in it for 30 hours. The last 45 minutes, there was awareness from us in the capsule, and them on the ground, that there is a chance that this might not be actually a survivable situation,” Isaacman told Kramer.

In the end, they landed safely, but the podcast did not specify how the crew pulled it off.

The training also involved fun parabolic flights to simulate microgravity

inspiration4 crew members screaming joy floating weightless inside plane
The Inspiration4 crew enjoys weightlessness on a parabolic flight, July 11, 2021.

In a parabolic flight, a plane flies in arcs up and down, creating up to 30 seconds of weightlessness at the peak of the arc. Some people call the planes “vomit comets.”

The team tested their bodies in a high-altitude chamber

inspiration4 crew members sian proctor and hayley arceneaux wearing gas masks in altitude chamber
Sian Proctor (left) and Hayley Arceneaux (right) in a high-altitude chamber at Duke Health in Durham, North Carolina, July 2, 2021.

It’s rare, but sometimes spaceship cabins become depressurized, just like an airplane cabin. Spaceships typically have oxygen masks on board in case this happens. But it’s still helpful to know how your body will react before you slip that mask on. Being familiar with the symptoms of oxygen deprivation can also alert crew members to a cabin leak if the spaceship’s systems don’t detect it first.

To experience those symptoms firsthand, under supervision, the crew took to an altitude chamber that exposed them to a low-oxygen environment.

“It provided great insight into each of our various symptoms,” Arceneaux said, according to a tweet from the mission’s account.

They’ve learned to draw blood and take skin samples

Inspiration4 crew in a carriage on a wire against blue skies
The Inspiration4 crew in a slidewire basket at Launch Complex 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida, July 28, 2021.

Since scientists want more information on how spaceflight affects the body, the Inspiration4 crew offered to gather biological data for NASA. In addition to taking each other’s blood and skin samples, the crew will monitor their sleep, take daily cognitive tests on an iPad, and scan their organs with an ultrasound device. Isaacman said they didn’t realize quite how extensive this research would be

“We were like, maybe we should have talked about this before we did it,” he said.

He added that the crew members will have to take skin-cell swabs “three times a day on 10 different parts of our body.”

The crew squeezed in some jet piloting above SpaceX’s facilities in Texas

jets flying over spacex starship facilities texas
The Inspiration4 crew flies jets above SpaceX’s facilities in Boca Chica, Texas, August 28, 2021

During their training period, the crew members made public appearances, did media interviews, and took a trip to Space Camp.

While traveling back and forth across the country, aboard Isaacman’s private jets, they made a detour to fly over SpaceX’s rocket-development facilities in Boca Chica, Texas. The site, which SpaceX founder Elon Musk calls “Starbase,” is where the company is building and testing prototypes of its Starship mega-rocket and Super Heavy booster.

Earlier in the summer, Isaacman and Proctor also did fighter-jet training in Montana to brush up on their piloting skills. NASA astronauts do the same to practice thinking and responding quickly under stress.

inspiration4 crew poses with arms crossed on the tarmac at kennedy space center in florida
The Inspiration4 crew poses on the tarmac after flying into NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, September 9, 2021.

With their training complete, Isaacman, Proctor, Arceneaux, and Sembroski flew to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday to complete the final preparations for launch.

They are SpaceX’s first commercial passengers, but the company aims to fly more. It already has another such mission lined up in January: For that flight, called AX-1, the company Axiom Space chartered a Crew Dragon to take customers to the International Space Station for eight days.

The AX-1 crew includes real-estate investor Larry Connor, Canadian investor Mark Pathy, and former Israeli fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe. Axiom Space’s vice president, former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, will command the mission. It’s not yet clear what their training regimen will be.

This story has been updated. It was originally published September 10, 2021.

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SpaceX is launching its first all-civilian space mission tomorrow – here’s what the flight means for the future of space tourism

Inspiration4 Crew
The four members of the Inspiration4 crew will orbit around Earth for three days.

On Sept. 15, 2021, the next batch of space tourists are set to lift off aboard a SpaceX rocket. Organized and funded by entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, the Inspiration4 mission touts itself as “the first all-civilian mission to orbit” and represents a new type of space tourism.

The four crew members will not be the first space tourists this year. In the past few months, the world witnessed billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos launching themselves and a lucky few others into space on brief suborbital trips. While there are similarities between those launches and Inspiration4 – the mission is being paid for by one billionaire and is using a rocket built by another, Elon Musk – the differences are noteworthy. From my perspective as a space policy expert, the mission’s emphasis on public involvement and the fact that Inspiration4 will send regular people into orbit for three days make it a milestone in space tourism.

Why this mission is like no other mission in history

The biggest difference between Inspiration4 and the flights performed earlier this year is the destination.

Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic took, and in the future, will take – their passengers on suborbital launches. Their vehicles only go high enough to reach the beginning of space before returning to the ground a few minutes later. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and crew Dragon vehicle, however, are powerful enough to take the Inspiration4 crew all the way into orbit, where they will circle the Earth for three days.

The four-person crew is also quite different from the other launches. Led by Isaacman, the mission features a somewhat diverse group of people. One crew member, Sian Proctor, won a contest among people who use Isaacman’s online payment company. Another unique aspect of the mission is that one of its goals is to raise awareness of and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As such, Isaacman selected Hayley Arceneaux, a physician’s assistant at St. Jude and childhood cancer survivor, to participate in the launch. The final member, Christopher Sembroski, won his seat when his friend was chosen in a charity raffle for St. Jude and offered his seat to Sembroski.

Because none of the four participants has any prior formal astronaut training, the flight has been called the first “all civilian” space mission. While the rocket and crew capsule are both fully automated – no one on board will need to control any part of the launch or landing – the four members still needed to go through much more training than the people on the suborbital flights. In less than six months, the crew has undergone hours of simulator training, lessons in flying a jet aircraft and spent time in a centrifuge to prepare them for the G-forces of launch.

Social outreach has also been an important aspect of the mission. While Bezos’ and Branson’s flights brought on criticism of billionaire playboys in space, Inspiration4 has tried – with mixed results – to make space tourism more relatable. The crew recently appeared on the cover of Time magazine and is the subject of an ongoing Netflix documentary.

There have also been other fundraising events for St. Jude, including a four-mile virtual run and the planned auction of beer hops that will be flown on the mission.

What this means for the future of space tourism

Sending a crew of amateur astronauts into orbit is a significant step in the development of space tourism. However, despite the more inclusive feel of the mission, there are still serious barriers to overcome before average people can go to space.

For one, the cost remains quite high. Though three of the four are not rich, Isaacman is a billionaire and paid an estimated $200 million to fund the trip. The need to train for a mission like this also means that prospective passengers must be able to devote significant amounts of time to prepare – time that many ordinary people don’t have.

Finally, space remains a dangerous place, and there will never be a way to fully remove the danger of launching people – whether untrained civilians or seasoned professional astronauts – into space.

Despite these limitations, orbital space tourism is coming. For SpaceX, Inspiration4 is an important proof of concept that they hope will further demonstrate the safety and reliability of their autonomous rocket and capsule systems. Indeed, SpaceX has several tourist missions planned in the next few months, even though the company isn’t focused on space tourism. Some will even includes stops at the International Space Station.

Even as space remains out of reach for most on Earth, Inspiration4 is an example of how billionaire space barons’ efforts to include more people on their journeys can give an otherwise exclusive activity a wider public appeal.

Wendy Whitman Cobb, professor of strategy and security studies, US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies

The Conversation
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SpaceX is launching its first civilians on Wednesday. Photos reveal how they trained for the 3-day spaceflight.

inspiration4 crew members screaming joy floating weightless inside plane
The Crew-2 members on a parabolic flight that simulates zero gravity. Left to right: Chris Sembroski, Hayley Arceneaux, Jared Isaacman, and Sian Proctor.

SpaceX is about to attempt a new first: launching a spaceship full of people who aren’t professional astronauts into orbit.

The four-person crew consists of a billionaire, a physician-assistant, an engineer, and a scientist. On Wednesday, weather permitting, they’ll climb aboard a Crew Dragon spaceship atop a Falcon 9 rocket, then roar into space. They’re set to orbit Earth for three days, enjoying the views and collecting data for scientific research, then plummet back through the atmosphere and parachute to a safe landing. They call their mission Inspiration4.

Billionaire Jared Isaacman chartered the flight from SpaceX and is both footing the bill and commanding the Crew Dragon spaceship. He gave the other three seats to Hayley Arceneaux, who survived bone cancer as a child and now works at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran who works for Lockheed Martin; and Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist who serves as an analogue astronaut in simulations of long-term Mars missions.

The crew isn’t just climbing into the spaceship like you or I might board a plane. They’ve spent the last four months training – studying manuals, pushing their bodies to new limits, and practicing for worst-case scenarios. They completed the training, which is largely based on NASA’s program, this week.

Even though Isaacman has spent thousands of hours flying jets and ex-military aircraft, he told Insider that the astronaut training was “more intense” than he expected.

jared isaacman and sian proctor co-pilot a jet
Jared Isaacman (left) and Sian Proctor (right) fly a fighter jet together, May 23, 2021.

“I definitely underestimated it to some extent,” he said.

When billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson each took their own rocket rides – flights which skimmed the edge of space but did not enter orbit – neither revealed the details of their training. But the Inspiration4 crew has been sharing its preparations publicly, offering a glimpse into what it takes to prepare amateurs for spaceflight.

Here’s what they’ve revealed.

Step one: Meet your rocket and watch it launch

hayley arceneaux gestures at distant spacex falcon 9 rocket on launchpad
Hayley Arceneaux gestures at a distant Falcon 9 rocket on Launch Complex 39A, April 21, 2021

Once the Inspiration4 crew was assembled, one of the first things they did together was watch SpaceX launch its third set of professional astronauts towards the International Space Station.

Arceneaux had never seen a rocket launch before.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off in the night with crew-2 mission
SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission lifts off aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, April 23, 2021.

“I thought I was gonna have anxiety before the launch, but it was actually really serene,” she told Axios reporter Miriam Kramer for the podcast “How It Happened.”

The soon-to-be spacefarers used a centrifuge to simulate the feeling of launch

chris sembroski sitting inside small white chamber for centrifuge training
Chris Sembroski sits in a centrifuge chamber on March 31, 2021

A centrifuge spins really fast to create centrifugal force that pushes things outwards, much like a salad spinner or the spinning carnival ride that presses you against a wall. That force mimics the feeling of launch, when the pull of gravity on your body feels three times its normal strength. Many astronauts and pilots use centrifuges in their training.

Isaacman took his teammates up Mount Rainier

inspiration4 crew members climb mount rainier in snow ice with trekking poles
The Inspiration4 crew climbs Mount Rainier, May 1, 2021.

Washington’s Mount Rainier is a 14,410-foot active volcano covered in glaciers, with punishing weather and hazardous crevasses. Summiting requires ice axes and crampons. So Isaacman decided it would be the perfect place to break the ice with his new crewmates. They climbed the mountain together in early May.

inspiration4 crew members celebrate while climbing mount rainier in snow ice
The Inspiration4 crew poses on Mount Rainier, May 1, 2021.

“They built some mental toughness. They got comfortable being uncomfortable, which is pretty important,” Isaacman said. “Food sucks on the mountain. Temperatures can suck on the mountain. Well, that’s no different than Dragon. We don’t get to dial up and down the thermostat … And I can tell you the food isn’t great in space, from what we’ve tasted so far.”

After camping, it was time to hit the books

inspiration4 crew pose in front of display falcon 9 rocket
The Inspiration4 crew poses in front of a Falcon 9 rocket at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, June 14, 2021.

After Mount Rainier, the crew flew to SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California to begin training in earnest.

“Every day was pretty much a 12-hour day, and then you were getting back to the hotel room, and you’re just studying. That was kind of the intense academic portion of the training,” Isaacman said.

They had to learn about the parts of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spaceship, how everything works, and what can go wrong.

“We have like 3,000 pages across 100 different manuals. It was a lot. I don’t think any of us really predicted that,” Isaacman said.

Then the crew practiced flying Crew Dragon in simulations

sian proctor wearing a headset looking at a screen in dark blue room
Sian Proctor on a visit to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, July 1, 2021.

Inside a mock Crew Dragon model, the Inspiration4 passengers practiced the procedure for launches and landings. Once they got used to how things are supposed to work when all goes smoothly, trainers started adding issues and spacecraft malfunctions to the simulation.

Some of these exercises involved all four crew members, but some were just for Isaacman and Proctor – the commander and pilot of the mission. Eventually, they were doing full simulations with mission control and a launch director.

In early August, the crew did a grueling 30-hour simulation

nasa astronauts doug hurley bob behnken in spacex spacesuit sit inside crew dragon capsule in front of blue control screens
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley practice in SpaceX’s flight simulator, March 19, 2020.

Isaacman, Proctor, Arceneaux, and Sembroski put on their spacesuits, climbed in the simulation model of the Crew Dragon, and sealed themselves inside for the 30-hour ordeal. Nobody knew what was coming, not even the mission controllers. A simulation supervisor had pre-programmed everything.

They practiced a regular launch, with a weather delay included. They ate a meal and slept. But as their simulated mission began to reenter the atmosphere and fall back to Earth, all hell broke loose.

The Axios podcast recounts what happened. In the simulation, as the Crew Dragon pushed itself into Earth’s atmosphere, three computers failed. The crew lost touch with mission control. Then the capsule’s parachutes wouldn’t deploy.

“Now you’re blind, you can’t talk, and there’s no way for the chutes to come out. There’s also no way for Dragon to stabilize itself during essentially a hypersonic reentry,” Isaacman told Kramer.

dragon v2 reentry
An animation shows how the Crew Dragon capsule super-heats the material around it as it plummets through Earth’s atmosphere.

When they got their bearings, the crew realized the simulation was sending their hypothetical capsule a continent away from its intended splashdown site.

“It felt very real. You’re living in it for 30 hours. The last 45 minutes, there was awareness from us in the capsule, and them on the ground, that there is a chance that this might not be actually a survivable situation,” Isaacman told Kramer.

In the end, they landed safely, but the podcast did not specify how the crew pulled it off.

The training also involved fun parabolic flights to simulate microgravity

inspiration4 crew members screaming joy floating weightless inside plane
The Inspiration4 crew enjoys weightlessness on a parabolic flight, July 11, 2021.

In a parabolic flight, a plane flies in arcs up and down, creating up to 30 seconds of weightlessness at the peak of the arc. Some people call the planes “vomit comets.”

The team tested their bodies in a high-altitude chamber

inspiration4 crew members sian proctor and hayley arceneaux wearing gas masks in altitude chamber
Sian Proctor (left) and Hayley Arceneaux (right) in a high-altitude chamber at Duke Health in Durham, North Carolina, July 2, 2021.

It’s rare, but sometimes spaceship cabins become depressurized, just like an airplane cabin. Spaceships typically have oxygen masks on board in case this happens. But it’s still helpful to know how your body will react before you slip that mask on. Being familiar with the symptoms of ozygen deprivation can also alert crew members to a cabin leak if the spaceship’s systems don’t detect it first.

To experience those symptoms firsthand, under supervision, the crew took to an altitude chamber that exposed them to a low-oxygen environment.

“It provided great insight into each of our various symptoms,” Arceneaux said, according to a tweet from the mission’s account.

They’ve learned to draw blood and take skin samples

Inspiration4 crew in a carriage on a wire against blue skies
The Inspiration4 crew in a slidewire basket at Launch Complex 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida, July 28, 2021.

Since scientists want more information on how spaceflight affects the body, the Inspiration4 crew offered to gather biological data for NASA. In addition to taking each other’s blood and skin samples, the crew will monitor their sleep, take daily cognitive tests on an iPad, and scan their organs with an ultrasound device. Isaacman said they didn’t realize quite how extensive this research would be

“We were like, maybe we should have talked about this before we did it,” he said.

He added that the crew members will have to take skin-cell swabs “three times a day on 10 different parts of our body.”

The crew squeezed in some jet piloting above SpaceX’s facilities in Texas

jets flying over spacex starship facilities texas
The Inspiration4 crew flies jets above SpaceX’s facilities in Boca Chica, Texas, August 28, 2021

During their training period, the crew members made public appearances, did media interviews, and took trips to Space Camp and SpaceX’s rocket-development facilities in Boca Chica, Texas.

That latter site, which SpaceX founder Elon Musk calls “Starbase,” is where the company is building and testing prototypes of its Starship mega-rocket and Super Heavy booster. When they visited, the Inspiration4 crew members went for a plane ride high above the rockets.

Earlier in the summer, Isaacman and Proctor also did fighter-jet training in Montana to brush up on their piloting skills. NASA astronauts do the same to practice thinking and responding quickly under stress.

inspiration4 crew poses with arms crossed on the tarmac at kennedy space center in florida
The Inspiration4 crew poses on the tarmac after flying into NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, September 9, 2021.

With their training is complete, Isaacman, Proctor, Arceneaux, and Sembroski flew to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday to complete the final preparations for launch.

They are SpaceX’s first commercial passengers, but the company aims to fly more. It already has another such mission lined up in January: For that flight, called AX-1, the company Axiom Space chartered a Crew Dragon to take customers to the International Space Station for eight days.

The AX-1 crew includes real-estate investor Larry Connor, Canadian investor Mark Pathy, and former Israeli fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe. Axiom Space’s vice president, former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, will command the mission. It’s not yet clear what their training regimen will be.

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SpaceX’s first civilian crew will have ‘one hell of a view’ from the spaceship’s toilet in a new glass dome

crew dragon spaceship above earth with glass dome cupola beneath nosecone
An illustration of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship with a glass dome “cupola” at its nose.

SpaceX’s first civilian crew is poised to enjoy what may be the best bathroom views in human history.

It’s not clear how the toilet facilities work on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship – the design is shrouded in proprietary secrecy. But we do know that the toilet is on the ceiling. That area of the spaceship will also feature a glass dome, called a cupola, that SpaceX is installing at the nose of the capsule.

So while passengers are using the toilet, they’ll be able to gaze out the windows, according to Jared Isaacman, a billionaire entrepreneur and jet pilot who purchased four seats on SpaceX’s spaceship for a civilian mission to space. The trip will be the first orbital spaceflight ever with no professional astronauts on board. It will also feature the first space toilet with a 360-degree view.

“It’s not a ton of privacy. But you do have this kind of privacy curtain that cuts across the top of the spacecraft, so you can kind of separate yourself from everyone else,” Isaacman, who will be commanding the mission, told Insider. “And that also happens to be where the glass cupola is. So, you know, when people do inevitably have to use the bathroom, they’re going to have one hell of a view.”

Isaacman’s planned journey, a mission called Inspiration4, could launch as soon as September 15. The group is expected to orbit Earth at an altitude higher than the International Space Station (ISS) for three days, enjoying the views and conducting science experiments while they’re there. Isaacman gave the other three Crew Dragon seats to physician-assistant Hayley Arceneaux, Air Force vet and engineer Chris Sembroski, and scientist and analogue astronaut Dr. Sian Proctor.

Inspiration4_Crew_at_Launch_Site
The Inspiration4 Crew at NASA’s Launchpad 39A. From left to right: Chris Sembroski, Hayley Arceneaux, Dr. Sian Proctor, and Jared Isaacman.

Inspiration4 aims to kick off a new era of space tourism – alongside Jeff Bezos’s plans to peek above the edge of space for three minutes on July 20 (though that’s a suborbital flight), and a mission next year that aims to send three paying customers to the ISS aboard a Crew Dragon capsule.

SpaceX has flown professional astronauts to the space station for NASA three times, but none of those spaceships had a cupola. That’s because the capsules’ noses needed to dock to the ISS so that the astronauts could climb into the orbiting laboratory. Since the Inspiration4 crew won’t be docking to anything, SpaceX is replacing the docking mechanism with a window that passengers can stand in.

“Probably most ‘in space’ you could possibly feel by being in a glass dome,” Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and chief engineer, said of the new cupola on Twitter.

The Inspiration4 crew is learning to use the spaceship’s toilet

jared isaacman spacex crew dragon
Jared Isaacman at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

Isaacman, a self-described “space geek,” started the payment-processing company Shift4 when he was 16 years old. He is still the company’s CEO. He also founded Draken International, which owns a large fleet of ex-military aircraft and trains Air Force and other pilots. Isaacman sold his majority stake in that company for “a nine-figure sum,” according to Forbes, which estimates his net worth at $2.9 billion.

Isaacman flies jets in his free time and has circumnavigated the globe at least twice. When he learned that he could buy a Crew Dragon flight, he jumped at the chance. Though neither SpaceX nor Isaacman has said how much he paid, NASA has estimated such a flight might cost $55 million per seat.

As part of the Inspiration4 mission, Isaacman is working with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to plan science experiments for the crew to do while in orbit. The four crew members also plan to draw each other’s blood, take skin samples, and perform cognitive tests to help NASA gather data about how spaceflight affects the human body.

SpaceX and NASA have both declined to reveal details about the location or design of Crew Dragon’s toilet, but the spaceship’s prior passengers have offered clues.

The toilet “works very similar to the one we were used to in the Space Shuttle, and it worked very well. We had no issues with it,” NASA astronaut Doug Hurley told reporters after launching to the ISS on the Crew Dragon’s first crewed flight last year.

The toilets on the Space Shuttle and on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft involved rudimentary hose and bag systems, so it’s likely the Crew Dragon’s resembles those. For civilians like Isaacman and his crewmates, this might be an adjustment. Even NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson previously told Business Insider that going to the bathroom might have been the worst part about life in space.

Learning to use the toilet is part of the intensive pre-flight training for Inspiration4, according to Isaacman.

“We’re just gonna have to work through it,” he said.

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