CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX’s first all-civilian launch is officially “go” for launch.
“#Inspiration4 and @SpaceX have completed our flight readiness review and remain on track for launch!” the Inspiration4 mission team tweeted on Friday (Sept. 3).
The mission, called Inspiration4, is set to blast off from NASA’s Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 15. A crew of four private citizens will strap into a Crew Dragon spacecraft and blast off on a three-day journey around the Earth.
Billionaire Jared Issacman, founder of Shift4 Payments, purchased the flight as part of an effort to raise millions for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He is joined by Haley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski.
Arceneaux, a childhood bone cancer survivor and St. Jude physician’s assistant, was chosen to represent the charity, while Proctor and Sembroski were selected as part of a global contest for a trip on the flight.
The group has been busy the last few months training for their flight. On Friday (Sept. 3), those efforts have paid off as teams from both SpaceX and Inspiration4 officially greenlit the flight.
Both the Dragon crew capsule and Falcon 9 rocket have flown before and are cleared to fly after teams thoroughly reviewed each of the crafts’ systems as well as ground support system data from the launch pad.
Liftoff is expected on Sept. 15, with a backup launch date of Sept. 16, Inspiration4 officials said in a statement emailed to Space.com.
The exact liftoff time will be determined just a few days before launch. Three days before liftoff, the team will narrow the 24-hour launch window down to five hours, taking into account the weather conditions at the launch site, the flight trajectory and at potential emergency landing sites off the Florida coast.
Once in orbit, the crew will circle the Earth for three days before splashing down in the Atlantic ocean. Since the Dragon will stay free-flying in orbit and not visit the International Space Station, as previous Crew Dragon missions have done, its docking port was removed and replaced with a dome window.
The window, inspired by the Cupola on the International Space Station, will provide the crew with incredible views of Earth, according to the Inspiration4 team.
Issacman, Arceneaux, Proctor and Sembrowski are set to arrive at Kennedy Space Center on Sept. 9, ahead of their planned launch.
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