Why This Tech Billionaire Wants To Charter The First Private Mission To Space
The world's first private mission to space is set to usher in a new era of commercial space exploration, and the man leading the charge is tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman. The 37-year-old billionaire is the founder and chief executive officer of Shift4 Payments, a leader in secure payment processing solutions.
As an accomplished pilot, Isaacman will be commanding the all-civilian spaceflight named Inspiration4, in recognition of the four-person crew's mission to inspire support for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a paediatric treatment and research centre, and to represent a new age for human spaceflight and exploration.
Isaacman will be donating the three mission seats to crew members who will be selected to represent the mission pillars of leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity.
"Inspiration4 is the realisation 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," he said in a statement.
Isaacman is rated to fly commercial and military aircraft. He holds several world records, including a round-the-world flight to raise money and awareness for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Flying in over 100 airshows as part of the Black Diamond Jet Team, he dedicates his every performance to charitable causes. In 2011, Isaacman co-founded the Draken International, the world's largest private air force to train pilots for the United States Armed Forces.
The Inspiration4 crew will be boarding a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, "Resilience", which will have no professional astronauts aboard, said SpaceX founder Elon Musk. The crew will undergo astronaut training by SpaceX on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, with a focus on orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, zero gravity and other forms of stress testing. They'll also receive emergency preparedness training, spacesuit and spacecraft ingress and egress exercises as well as partial and full-mission simulations.
The mission will launch from the historic Launch Complex 39A at Nasa's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be monitored every step of the way by SpaceX mission control as the spacecraft orbits the planet every 90 minutes. Upon ending its multi-day journey, the spacecraft will re-enter Earth's atmosphere for a soft water-landing off the coast of Florida.
According to Musk, the full arc of the mission is still under discussion—but details are up to Isaacman. The future commander of the spaceflight has given St. Jude two seats for the mission—the first seat reserved for a St. Jude ambassador who exemplifies the pillar of hope while the second seat will represent generosity. Members of the public can enter for a chance to join the flight to space and support St. Jude's mission. Isaacman himself has already given US$100 million to St. Jude and is inviting donations to raise US$200 million.
The fourth seat, representing prosperity, will be given to an entrepreneur who will make use of the new Shift4Shop e-commerce platform, which aims to empower entrepreneurs to build and grow successful e-commerce businesses online.
"In the lead-up to launch, we’ll share new ways to support and follow our mission preparation and execution with a focus on inspiring and helping others," said Isaacman.
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