What Is the Inspiration Behind SpaceX’s Inspiration4 All-Civilian Space Mission?

Forget traveling to another country for a vacation. Are you ready to go to space? Fortunately, you don’t need to pack your bags and astronaut food just yet, but four civilians will be soon. SpaceX’s Inspiration4 space mission is set to take off on September 15 and it has a more important purpose than being an expensive trip to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Inspiration4 is SpaceX’s first fully private mission

In this photo illustration, a Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) logo seen displayed on a smartphone.
In this photo illustration, a Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) logo seen displayed on a smartphone. | (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Inspiration4 mission is SpaceX’s first all-civilian mission that will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. According to the Indian Express, all four seats on the craft were purchased by billionaire Jared Isaacman, the founder of Shift4 Payments. The other passengers on the space ride include Haley Arceneaux —  a cancer survivor and physician’s assistant at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – as well as Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski, both of which won a global contest to be on the flight.

What is the purpose of this space flight?

Inspiration4 mission commander Jared Isaacman, founder and chief executive officer of Shift4 Payments, stands for a portrait in front of the recovered first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket at Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Inspiration4 mission commander Jared Isaacman, founder and chief executive officer of Shift4 Payments, stands for a portrait in front of the recovered first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket at Space Exploration Technologies Corp. | (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Part of the purpose of this all-civilian space flight is to raise awareness and funds for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital based in Tennessee. The research facility focuses mainly on children’s diseases like leukemia and other cancers. In addition to that noble cause, the Inspiration4 flight is an opportunity for the crew to collect important health data, which will help in future space flights.

The space traveler’s immune systems will be monitored and tests will be performed before and after the journey in order to check on their response to changes in gravity. Additionally, the crew’s organ systems will be monitored by an ultrasound device. Ultimately, the Inspiration4 flight will also be seen as a test-bed for future civilian space flights, much like the flights that Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson took part in months ago.

The Inspiration4 will travel higher than the International Space Station

The Falcon 9 Rocket stands tall in California
The recovered first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket stands at Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) on February 2, 2021, in Hawthorne, California. – Inspiration4 mission commander Jared Isaacman, founder and chief executive officer of Shift4 Payments all-civilian Inspiration4 mission will raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through donation-based sweepstakes to select a member of the crew. | (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Inspiration4 space mission involves the craft orbiting the Earth for three days before touching down on the Atlantic Ocean. Aside from the research being conducted on the flight and the awareness being raised, the most impressive part of the flight plan is that the Inspiration4 will travel to a height of 575km. That’s higher than the International Space Station (ISS), which sits at 408 km, and the Hubble Space telescope, which hovers around at 547 km.

To top things off, the Inspiration4 flight will be the farthest distance traveled by a crew since 2009. That doesn’t mean that this upcoming flight will be all work and no play for the crew on board. Sources say that the Dragon module that the crew will be in will be modified with a large dome viewing window – much like the one that’s on the ISS – so that the crew can get some really good views of Earth.

Of course, this upcoming flight hasn’t exactly been a vacation as the crew has been preparing for months for it. However, it sure beats traveling to a different country. Let’s just hope they packed enough freeze-dried astronaut food for the trip.  

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