SpaceX’s 1st all-civilian mission to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

SpaceX announced Monday that four private individuals will be launched into orbit on a Crew Dragon capsule in late 2021, as part of the “world’s first all-civilian mission.”

According to CNBC, Jared Isaacman, the founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, will command the capsule and is donating the three accompanying seats to raise support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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Isaacman, a 37-year-old billionaire, estimated the mission’s length to last for three or four days, The New York Times reported.

In a news release, SpaceX stated that Isaacman’s crewmates will be selected “to represent the mission pillars of leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity.”

The mission, dubbed Inspiration4, is the “realization of a lifelong dream and a step towards a future in which anyone can venture out and explore the stars. I appreciate the tremendous responsibility that comes with commanding this mission, and I want to use this historic moment to inspire humanity while helping to tackle childhood cancer here on Earth,” Isaacman said in a prepared statement.

According to CNBC, Isaacman has reserved one of the three available seats for a “St. Jude ambassador with direct ties to the mission” and given the remaining two slots to the facility for use in an online competition. The competition launched Monday and closes Feb. 28, with one seat open to those who donate to St. Jude and the other open to new and existing customers of Isaacman’s Shift4Shop, a company that sells credit-card-processing terminals and point-of-sale systems to restaurants and other businesses.

Contest details are available on the official Inspiration4 website.

Isaacman confirmed in an interview with the Times that the St. Jude ambassador has already been selected and is a “former cancer survivor, who was treated at St. Jude and has come back and is an employee there today.”

Scheduled to launch in October, Inspiration4 will be the first mission to orbit where none of the people aboard is a professional astronaut from NASA or another government space agency, the Times reported.

On a call with reporters following the announcement, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said Isaacman will set the Inspiration4′s mission length and other parameters.

“If you decide later you want to do a different mission you totally can,” Musk said. “You get to go where you want to go. But I think we’re nominally assuming it’s two to four days, but if you want to go longer that’s fine too.”

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