Immediately after 8 pm Eastern Standard Time on September 15, 2021, the next batch of space travelers took off on a SpaceX rocket. Organized and funded by entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, the Inspiration4 mission represents a new type of space travel, calling itself “the first all-civil mission in orbit.”
The four crew members are not the first space travelers of the year. In the last few months, the world has witnessed billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos launching themselves and some lucky people into space on a short orbital trip.
Although these launches and Inspiration 4 have similarities, the mission is paid by a billion millionaires and uses a rocket manufactured by another Elon Musk. The difference is noteworthy. From my point of view as a space policy expert, the fact that the mission focuses on public involvement and the fact that Inspiration 4 keeps the public in orbit for three days is a milestone in space travel. Will be.
Why Inspiration 4 is different
The biggest difference between Inspiration 4 and flights made earlier this year is the destination.
Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic carried passengers in an orbital launch. Their vehicle will be high enough to reach the beginning of the universe before returning to the ground after a few minutes. However, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon vehicle are much more powerful, putting the Inspiration 4 crew in orbit and orbiting the Earth for three days.
The four crew members are also quite different from the other launch crew members. This mission, led by Isaacman, features a rather diverse group of people. A crew member, Sian Proctor, won a contest among people who use Isaacman’s online payments company. Another unique aspect of the mission is to raise awareness and funding for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, one of its goals. That’s why Isaacman chose to join the launch of Haley Arsenor, a medical assistant at St. Jude and a survivor of childhood cancer. The last member, Christopher Sembroski, won a seat when his friend was selected for a charity raffle in St. Jude and offered a seat to Sembroski.
This flight was called the first all-civilian space mission, as none of the four participants had previously been officially trained as an astronaut. Both the rocket and crew capsules are fully automated and do not require control of any part of launch or landing, but the four members receive far more training than those in ballistic flight. I needed to. In less than six months, the crew took hours of simulator training and lessons on jet flight and spent time preparing for G-force launches in the centrifuge.
Social support is also an important aspect of our mission. While Bezos and Branson’s flight brought criticism of the millionaire Playboy in space, Inspiration4 tried to make space travel more relevant, but the results are mixed. The crew recently appeared on the cover of Time magazine and is the subject of an ongoing Netflix documentary.
St. Jude also hosts other fundraising events, including a 4-mile virtual run and an auction of beer hops to fly on missions.
What is the future of space travel?
Getting the crew of amateur astronauts into orbit is an important step in the development of space travel. But despite the more comprehensive sense of mission, there are still serious barriers that the average person must overcome before they can go to space.
For one thing, the cost remains quite high. Three of the four aren’t rich, but Isaacman is a millionaire and has paid an estimated $ 200 million to fund his trip. The need to train for such missions also means that future passengers must be able to spend a considerable amount of time preparing-time that many ordinary people do not have.
Finally, space remains a dangerous place, and there is never a way to completely eliminate the danger of launching people into space, whether untrained civilians or skilled professional astronauts.
Despite these restrictions, orbital space travel is coming. For SpaceX, Inspiration 4 is an important proof of concept demonstrating the safety and reliability of autonomous rockets and capsule systems. In fact, SpaceX isn’t focused on space travel, but it plans several tourism missions in the coming months. Some also include a stop at the International Space Station.
While the universe is out of reach of most people on Earth, Inspiration4 is an effort by the Billionaire Space Baron to get more people involved in the journey, but otherwise exclusive activities more widely and generally. Here is an example of how to appeal.
Wendy Whitmancob is a professor of strategy and security at the US Air Force Graduate School of Advanced Aerospace Studies.
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SpaceX Inspiration 4 Mission: Realistic Space Travel