Quartet of space tourists will spend 3 days aboard SpaceX capsule
Space: It’s not just for billionaires and certified NASA astronauts anymore. SpaceX has launched its first private flight with four space tourists aboard. They will spend three days in low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 100 miles before making a water landing off the Florida coast.
OK, so there is one billionaire on the Dragon capsule. Jared Isaacman, a 38-year-old who made his fortune from a payments platform he founded as a teen, has spent years as a pilot and aspiring astronaut and is the flight leader for Inspiration4. He’s joined by Hayley Arcenaux, a 29-year-old physician’s assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she herself received bone cancer treatment as a child; 42-year-old data engineer Chris Sembroski; and 51-year-old community college teacher Sian Proctor.
Sembroski and Proctor won a sweepstakes contest. Isaacman brought Arcenaux along after donating $100 million to St. Jude and is trying to raise $100 million more in matching donations.
The space tourists are higher than the International Space Station and than billionaire space enthusiasts Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin went when they made their space debuts over the summer.
Isaacman, who paid for the whole flight, marveled that only a few hundred people have been to space, but space tourists are soon to make it almost a routine occurrence.
“Many are about to follow,” he said. “The door’s opening now and it’s pretty incredible.”
Since they’re on their own up there, the amateur astronauts spent six months in training to prepare for any emergency. SpaceX’s next commercial flight will be for a week next year. Its passengers will be a retired NASA astronaut and three wealthy space tourists. But the industry aims to make things reasonably affordable in the future.
“Yes, today you must have and be willing to part with a large amount of cash to buy yourself a trip to space,” Explorers Club President Richard Garriott told the Associated Press. “But this is the only way we can get the price down and expand access, just as it has been with other industries before it.”