Space mission to send first-timers to orbit Earth
WASHINGTON — Aerospace company SpaceX on Wednesday will send a crew made up entirely of first-timers to space, as they aim to orbit the Earth without the company of a professional astronaut.
The four passengers are supposed to embody the opening up of space to everyone, giving the mission its name: Inspiration4.
An American billionaire, Jared Isaacman, is behind the project and will be the mission commander. It was he who chartered the mission at his own expense.
He has invited three people to join him via a rather original selection process, with each seat assigned a specific value. Isaacman’s seat represents “leadership.”
The 38-year-old Isaacman is the founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, which he created when he was 16 from the basement of his family home.
The company offers stores and restaurants a service for processing bank card transactions.
Passionate about piloting, Isaacman holds a record for flying around the world in a light jet and is qualified to fly several military aircraft.
In 2012, he founded a company providing training to US Air Force pilots, called Draken International.
A married father of two daughters, he has also been passionate about space exploration.
In 2008, he witnessed the takeoff, aboard a Russian rocket in Kazakhstan, of one of the first private tourists to visit the International Space Station, Richard Garriott.
It was after that experience that he contacted SpaceX.
The three people invited to the mission are cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux, geology professor Sian Proctor and Air Force veteran Chris Sembroski.
Arceneaux was treated for bone cancer as a child at St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, for which Isaacman organized a fundraiser. She works there today as a physician assistant.
At 29, she will be the youngest American to be sent into orbit around the Earth, and the first person with a prosthesis to go into space.
She will be the medical manager for the mission. Her seat represents “hope.”
The 51-year-old Proctor, who was born in Guam, teaches at a small college in Arizona.
Her father worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) during the Apollo missions. She participated in an experiment in Hawaii simulating life on Mars, and twice applied to Nasa to become an astronaut.
Proctor will be only the fourth African American woman to go into space.
She will be the mission’s pilot, assisting Isaacman. Her seat represents “prosperity.”
Sembroski, 42, had served in Iraq and now works in the aeronautics industry, for Lockheed Martin in Washington state.
His seat represents “generosity,” and his role will be to help manage the cargo on board and communications with Earth.
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