The world's first crew of " amateur astronauts "are preparing to take off on a mission that will transport them to orbit before returning them to Earth this weekend.
The four civilians, who have undergone astronaut training in recent months, are scheduled to take off on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:02 p.m. local time on Wednesday (1 a.m.02 UK time Thursday).
Except problems, the two men and the two Women of the Inspiration4 mission are expected to orbit the planet for three or four days, performing experiments and admiring the view through a glass dome installed on their Dragon capsule, before diving into the Atlantic Ocean.
Presented as " the world's first fully civilian mission to orbit ", the launch is the latest to promote the virtues of space tourism and follows Sir Richard Branson's July suborbital flights to Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo - who has since been blocked for deviating - and Jeff Bezos on Blue Origin 's New Shepard rocket .
While the Inspiration4 crew took flight lessons, spin sessions to experience launch G-forces, and hours of training in the SpaceX capsule simulator, the mission will be almost fully automated. . The capsule orbits the Earth at an altitude of 360 miles (575 km), approximately 93 miles higher than the International Space station .
Elon Musk 's SpaceX announced in February that billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman, who has logged thousands of hours in
Dr. Sian Proctor, geologist and science communicator, is also on the mission. the final round of the NASA astronaut selection process in 2009, and Chris Sembroski, a US Air Force veteran and aerospace engineer with Lockheed Martin, who was offered the seat by a friend who won it in a St Jude charity raffle.
Although the Inspiration4 mission is another billionaire paid mission, it scores an important step in space tourism: never before has an entirely amateur crew been put into orbit. "This will be the first time that a global superpower has not sent people into orbital space," Isaacman said. "When this mission will befinished, people will look at it and say, "This was the first time ordinary people could go to space."
Louis Brennan, professor of business studies at Trinity Business School in Dublin, said SpaceX was "ahead of the pack " of companies private sector interested in space. He compared today's space tourism to the days before low-cost airlines created a mass market for air travel. "In the same way, space tourism risks remaining the prerogative of the well-to-do classes in the short and medium term, because the cost is prohibitive for people of average means ", h. e said. “In the longer term, as the costs involved decrease, it is likely to become a mass market activity. However, for now and in the short to medium term, it will be a niche market. "
As the industry goes beyondhe contracts of national space agencies towards tourism, this will be more crucial than ever to avoid accidents and disasters. "Safety in space tourism is paramount, as any accident resulting in death or injury presents the real risk of undermining the confidence of potential space tourism customers " said Brennan.