SpaceX is poised to attempt a new first: orbiting a spaceship operated by non-professional astronauts.
A billionaire, a physician assistant, an engineer, and a scientist comprise the four-person team. They will clamber onboard a Crew Dragon spaceship atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday, weather permitting, and then roar into space. They are scheduled to orbit Earth for three days, taking in the views and collecting data for scientific studies, before plummeting back to Earth and parachute-landing safely. Their mission is dubbed Inspiration4.
Jared Isaacman, a billionaire, chartered the journey from SpaceX and is also controlling the Crew Dragon spaceship. He assigned the remaining three seats to Hayley Arceneaux, a child cancer survivor who now works at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; Chris Sembroski, a retired Air Force officer who now works for Lockheed Martin; and Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist who serves as an analog astronaut in simulations of long-term Mars missions.
The crew is not climbing into the spaceship in the same way that you or I would board a plane. They’ve spent the last four months training — poring over instructions, straining their bodies to unprecedented heights, and simulating worst-case scenarios. This week, they completed the training, which is primarily modeled after NASA’s handbook.
Despite thousands of hours experienced flying jets and ex-military aircraft, Isaacman told Insider that astronaut training was “more intense” than he anticipated.
“I definitely underestimated it to some extent,” he admitted.
When billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson each took their own rocket voyage, skimming the edge of space but not entering orbit, neither disclosed their training. However, the Inspiration4 crew has been publicly documenting their preparations, providing insight into the process of preparing amateurs for spaceflight.
After completing their training, Isaacman, Proctor, Arceneaux, and Sembroski traveled to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday to finalize launch preparations.
These are SpaceX’s first commercial flights, but the company plans to expand. It already has another mission of this type scheduled for January: Axiom Space rented a Crew Dragon for that voyage, dubbed AX-1, to transport customers to the International Space Station for eight days.
Larry Connor, a real estate investor, Mark Pathy, a Canadian investor, and Eytan Stibbe, a former Israeli fighter pilot, are among the AX-1’s crew. Michael López-Alegra, vice president of Axiom Space and a former NASA astronaut, will lead the mission. It is unknown what their workout routine will entail.