A tech billionaire and a young cancer survivor are part of themaking history as they blast off aboard a SpaceX rocket Wednesday evening. The , which raised funds to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, will be the first fully commercial, non-government space flight to orbit around the Earth.
Unlike the short up-and-down space flights byand earlier this summer, which were measured in minutes, this one is scheduled to last three days. The Crew Dragon capsule will go into orbit at a planned altitude of 360 miles — 100 miles above the International Space Station, higher than anyone has flown since the final shuttle visit to the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009.
The mission is launching from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with a crew of four on board:
- Jared Isaacman, a wealthy entrepreneur and jet pilot who chartered the flight and serves as mission commander;
- Sian Proctor, a pilot with a doctorate in science education;
- Chris Sembroski, a Seattle-based engineer;
- And , a 29-year-old physician assistant at St. Jude, where she was successfully treated for bone cancer when she was 10 years old. She will become the youngest American to fly in space.
“This is a stepping stone on the way towards providing access to space for all,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk told reporters when the flight wasin February.
The crew has spent a whirlwind five-and-a-half months preparing for the mission, studying mission plans, training in a SpaceX simulator, undergoing centrifuge runs to familiarize them with the accelerations of space flight, and taking rides in the fighter jets Isaacman flies as a hobby.
Prior to Wednesday’s launch, SpaceX Crew Dragon capsules have beenfour times — three of them carrying to and from to the International Space Station.
During their time in orbit, Isaacman and his crewmates will collect medical data and carry out life science experiments.
Then they will make a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean east of Cape Canaveral or, depending on the weather, the Gulf of Mexico.