SpaceX just made history by making the first full civilian space flight. Prior to this, a professional astronaut has accompanied all space flights.
But just because it’s a civilian crew doesn’t mean it’s for everybody just yet. The flight was funded and lead by Jared Isaacman, 38-year-old founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments. For his three day automated orbit around earth, he took Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and pediatric cancer survivor, Chris Sembroski, U.S. Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer, and geoscientist and licensed pilot Dr. Sian Proctor. The flight will raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
After its 3 day cycle it will come splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Florida.
With the help of Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rockets, Jared Isaacman has achieved something fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos couldn’t, go to space without looking like Uranus. The sentiments when these two figures scraped the edges of space were mixed. It was a flight for personal glory, as a PR stunt for their companies.
To top it all off, the media had to bust out charts and discuss where space even was, and whether they had even reached it. Bezos touched the edge at 351,210 feet getting four minutes of weightlessness. Branson reached 282,000 feet. By comparison Jared Isaacman is now on track for an orbiting height of 575km, higher than the International Space Station and Hubble Telescope.
They’ve done this with perfect optics. Nobody is talking about eating the rich and they’re doing it for a good cause. Even their cargo space is being touted as being for the good of us all. “Crew Dragon’s 365lbs cargo capacity will be allocated for both crew essentials as well as scientific equipment dedicated to micro-gravity research and experimentation. Inspiration4 is committed to assigning the maximum possible mass towards this valuable research, providing access to space for inspiring projects that are otherwise unable to overcome the high barriers of traditional space-based research.”
Jared Isaacman has successfully navigated the optics of millionaires taking a jaunt to outer space. But when will average people be able to take the trip? Experts agree that we’re decades away from space flight being less than six figure sums. But considering it’s only been about 60 years since the first man in history entered outer space, I think us peasants can probably stand to wait a couple more years.