SpaceX will launch four space tourists on a three-day trip in space. Here’s everything you need to know


By Jackie Wattles, CNN Business

On Wednesday, four people — none of whom are professional astronauts — will strap themselves into a capsule atop a 200-foot-tall SpaceX rocket that will blast them past the speed of sound and up to 17,500 miles per hour.

This mission, dubbed Inspiration4, is the first orbital mission in the history of spaceflight to be staffed entirely by tourists or otherwise non-astronauts.

Launch is slated for Wednesday between 8:02 pm and 1:02 am ET from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County, Florida, though forecasters are keeping a close eye out for storms that could impact the mission.

The three-day journey will see the quartet free-flying through Earth’s orbit, whipping around the planet once every 90 minutes while the passengers float, buoyed by microgravity, and take in panoramic views of our home planet. To cap off the journey, their spacecraft will dive back into the atmosphere for a fiery re-entry and splash down off the coast of Florida. And yes, for all three days in space, the passengers will all have to share a special zero-gravity-friendly toilet located near the top of the capsule. No showering will be available, and crew will all have to sleep in the same reclining seats they will ride in during launch.

This is far from the first time civilians have traveled to space. Though NASA has been averse to signing up non-astronauts for routine missions after the death of Christa McAuliffe, a New Jersey school teacher who was killed in the Challenger disaster in 1986, a cohort of wealthy thrill-seekers paid their own way to the International Space Station in the 2000s through a company called Space Adventures. American investment management billionaire Dennis Tito became the first to self-fund a trip in 2001 with his eight-day stay on the International Space Station, and six others came after him. They all booked rides alongside professional astronauts on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

This mission, however, has been billed as the beginning of a new era of space travel in which average people, rather than government-selected astronauts and the occasional deep-pocketed adventurer, carry the mantle of space exploration.

But to be clear, we are still a long way from that reality, and this trip is still far from “average.” It’s a custom, one-off mission financed by a billionaire founder of a payment processing company, and though pricing details have not been made public, it likely cost upward of $200 million. (According to one government report, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule costs roughly $55 million per seat.)

Here’s a rundown of what’s happening and why it matters.

The passengers: A billionaire, a cancer survivor, a geologist and a raffle winner

  • Jared Isaacman, 38, the billionaire founder of payment processing company Shift4, who is also personally financing this entire mission
  • Hayley Arceneaux, a 29-year-old cancer survivor who now works as a physician assistant at St. Jude, the hospital where she was treated, in Memphis, Tennessee. She’ll be the first person with a prosthetic body part to go to space, and she’ll serve as the flight’s chief medical officer. St. Jude selected Arceneaux for this mission as Isaacman’s request, according to a Netflix documentary, and, at the time, she said she was so unfamiliar with space travel that she asked if she would be traveling to the moon, unaware that humans have not set foot on the moon in 50 years.
  • Sian Proctor, 51, a geologist and educator who was selected for a seat on this mission through a post on social media in which she highlights her space-related artwork and entrepreneurial spirit. She’ll be only the fourth Black woman from the US to travel to orbit.
  • Chris Sembroski, a 42-year-old Seattle-based Lockheed Martin employee and former camp counselor at Alabama’s famed Space Camp. He won his seat through a raffle he entered by donating to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, though he wasn’t the official winner. His friend snagged the seat and, after deciding not to go, transferred it to him.

Isaacman — who will become the third billionaire to self-fund a trip to space in the past three months and the first to buy a trip to orbit on a SpaceX capsule — is billing this mission as one that he hopes will inspire would-be space adventureres, hence the missions’s name, Inspiration4. He’s also using it as the centerpiece for a $200 million fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, $100 million of which he donated personally and the rest he is hoping to raise through online donations and an upcoming auction.

So far, a fundraiser has brought in $30 million of its $100 million goal.

How did all this happen?

Inspiration4 is entirely the brain child of Jared Isaacman and SpaceX.

Isaacman began flying single-engine prop planes recreationally in the mid-2000s and developed an insatiable thirst for going higher and faster, eventually moving into twin-engine planes, then jets, then military-grade aircraft that can zip past the speed of sound.

Each of Isaacman’s fellow passengers was selected in a different way: He asked St. Jude to select a cancer-survivor-turned-healthcare-provider, and the organization chose Arceneaux. Proctor won an online contest specifically for people who use Shift4, the payment platform Isaacman runs. And Sembroski was given his seat by a person who won a raffle for people who donated to St. Jude. (Sembroski also entered the raffle but was not the original winner.)

Isaacman told CNN Business that he sat down with SpaceX to hash out the flight profile. He specifically wanted the Crew Dragon to orbit higher than International Space Station, which is why the spacecraft will orbit about 350 miles above Earth — roughly 100 miles above where the space station orbits.

How risky is this?

Any time a spacecraft leaves Earth there are risks, and there are no perfect measurements for predicting them.

But NASA estimates Crew Dragon has a 1 in 270 chance of catastrophic failure, based on one metric the space agency uses. For comparison, NASA’s Space Shuttle missions in the 1980s to early 2000s ultimately logged a failure rate of about 1 in every 68 missions.

Because of the inherent risks of blasting a spacecraft more than 17,500 miles per hour — the speed that allows an object to enter Earth’s orbit — Inspiration4 is more dangerous than the brief, up-and-down suborbital jaunts made by billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson.

Apart from the many perils of the launch itself — in which rockets essentially use controlled explosions more powerful than most wartime bombs to drum up enough speed to rip away from gravity — there’s also the re-entry process. When returning from orbit, the Crew Dragon’s external temperatures can reach up to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit, and astronauts can experience 4.5 Gs of force pushing them into their seats, all while the ever-thickening atmosphere whips around the capsule.

During a Netflix documentary about the Inspiration4 mission, Musk described a capsule going through reentry as “like a blazing meteor coming in.”

“And so it’s hard not to get vaporized,” he added.

After that the Crew Dragon then has to deploy parachutes to slow its descent and make a safe splashdown in the ocean before rescue ships can whisk the four passengers back to dry land.

Despite the risks, a former NASA chief and career safety officials have said the Crew Dragon is likely the safest crewed vehicle ever flown.

The vehicle: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon

All four passengers will spend the entire missions aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, a 13-foot-wide, gumdrop-shaped spacecraft that detaches from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket after reaching orbital speeds.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule was developed by Elon Musk’s rocketry company for the specific purpose of ferrying NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station, which it did for the first time ever in May 2020.

Since then, SpaceX has launched two additional Crew Dragon missions for NASA.

SpaceX is allowed, however, to sell seats — or entire missions — to whoever the company chooses. Although NASA paid for much of the Crew Dragon’s development, under the terms of the deal between the federal agency and the company, SpaceX still technically owns and operates the vehicle and can use it for whatever commercial purposes it wishes.

Crew Dragon’s missions in the near future also include a mix of NASA-commissioned flights to the ISS and space tourism missions.

For this mission, the Crew Dragon will be retrofitted with a giant glass dome at the tip of the spacecraft specifically for the crew to soak in panoramic views of the cosmos.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.





Source link

UArizona Research Project to Monitor Health of SpaceX Inspiration4 Crew Members


College of Medicine – Phoenix

Today

zenhausern and colleagues
From left to right: Frederic Zenhausern with Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine researchers Jerome Lacombe, Ali Fattahi, Jian Gu; Kaitlyn Janssen, an Arizona State University undergraduate student studying biomedical engineering; Jasmine Devadhasan; and Alexander Summers.

Space flight is not just for astronauts and rocket scientists anymore. SpaceX Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission, will make the dream of orbiting Earth come true for a crew of civilians on Sept. 15. Researchers with the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, led by center director Frederic Zenhausern, will provide the first in-flight testing of multiple biomarkers of stress, inflammation and immunity measured in a zero-gravity environment to monitor the health of the four-member crew.  

The essential task of protecting humans from exposure to hazards is critical to the prospect of future deep space exploration. Zenhausern and his team developed a novel technology that will monitor crew members’ stress, inflammation and immune levels during space flight through a blood droplet from a fingerstick or a saliva sample.

“Our development of advanced molecular diagnostics for multipurpose indications of emerging infectious diseases, health performance or risks of environmental exposure must benefit all populations where possible,” Zenhausern said. “This Inspiration4 mission shares some operational requirements similar to a consumer health product to be performed at home or in low-resources settings, which must be easy to use, minimally invasive, rapid and low cost.”

VeriFAST device
A VeriFAST device.

The Vertical Integrated Flow Assay System Technology, known as VeriFAST, uses blood or saliva deposited onto a device to perform rapid assessments of physiological or molecular effects on humans. The system provides precise measurements, including multiplex molecular diagnostics, to detect possible radiation exposure. The devices have nanoporous membranes printed with arrays of reagents arranged in rows. When the assessments are completed, the spots in the array change color, providing visual results within minutes.

Zenhausern and his team designed the VeriFAST platform to assess a full range of biomarkers, from proteins to genes. While the Inspiration4 mission will take less than a week to complete, it will provide a unique opportunity to apply the VeriFAST platform to help researchers study the molecular and physiological levels in the human body under extreme zero-gravity conditions. One of the biomarkers measured by VeriFAST is the C-reactive protein. The level of that protein in blood has long been used as a diagnostic marker of inflammatory response, including the response occurring in cancer. This biomedical data will offer valuable insights and help inform the measures necessary to protect future astronaut crews in orbit during longer missions.

Zero gravity, confinement and radiation experienced during space flight can have significant health consequences. Space radiation is risky to the human body, potentially causing damage to the DNA in cells. Radiation exposure may occur during deep-space missions and can increase the risk of long-term health consequences such as cancer. Adverse effects to the central nervous and cardiovascular systems may also occur.  It is difficult to determine remotely the health consequences on the tissues and cells of crew members.

“As civilian space travel becomes more frequent and accessible, the university is well positioned to lead in the important, emerging field of aerospace biomedicine,” said Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, the university’s senior vice president for research and innovation. “The new knowledge Dr. Zenhausern’s group will create through SpaceX Inspiration4 is really the tip of the iceberg toward a better understanding of in-flight health.”

The Translational Research Institute for Space Health, known as TRISH, funded the project, which is part of a research complement to be conducted during the multi-day journey. The Inspiration4 crew, commanded by Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, will contribute to the space biomedical community by participating in important scientific research during the mission. Inspiration4’s goal is to inspire humanity and to advance cancer research through collaboration with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

If the VeriFAST platform is validated by the Inspiration4 crew, it could provide a valuable blood and saliva analysis system to support the health and performance of future space crews. The biomedical samples collected during the Inspiration4 mission will become part of a biobank used for future collaborations by research teams at SpaceX, TRISH and the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.

“Innovation and problem solving to improve health are at the core of what we do. That impact has been felt in Arizona, around the world and now for those in space,” said Dr. Guy Reed, dean of the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. “This collaboration with TRISH, SpaceX and the ANBM Center creates synergies that will help to protect humans against radiation injury and other hazards that they encounter during space travel. It will fuel the development of new therapies and preventive strategies for crew members and patients here on Earth and beyond.”

A version of this article originally appeared on the College of Medicine – Phoenix website: https://phoenixmed.arizona.edu/spacex



Source link

UArizona Research Project to Monitor Health of SpaceX Inspiration4 Crew Members During Mission


College Researchers Designed Novel Molecular Diagnostics Technology to Monitor the Health of Four Crew Members during First All-Civilian Mission to Orbit

SpaceX Inspiration4 LogoSpace flight is not just for astronauts and rocket scientists anymore. SpaceX Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission, will make the dream of orbiting the Earth come true for a crew of civilians September 15. Researchers with the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, led by Frederic Zenhausern, PhD, MBA, will provide the first in-flight testing of multiple biomarkers of stress, inflammation and immunity measured in a zero gravity environment to monitor the health of the four-member crew.

The essential task of protecting humans from exposure to these hazards is critical to the prospect of future deep space exploration. Dr. Zenhausern and his team developed a novel technology that will monitor crew members’ response to measure stress, inflammation and immune levels during space flight through a blood droplet from a simple fingerstick or a saliva sample.

“Our development of advanced molecular diagnostics for multi-purpose indications of emerging infectious diseases, health performance or risks of environmental exposure must benefit all populations where possible,” said Dr. Zenhausern, director of the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine. “This Inspiration4 mission shares some operational requirements similar to a consumer health product to be performed at home or in low resources settings — which must be easy to use, minimally invasive, rapid and low cost.”

The VIFAS Technology
The VIFAS Technology

The Vertical Integrated Flow Assay System (VIFAS) technology uses blood or saliva deposited onto a test strip to perform rapid assessments of radiobiological effects on humans. The system provides precise measurements, including multiplex molecular diagnostics, to possible radiation exposure. The test strips have nanoporous membranes printed with arrays of reagents arranged in rows. When the assessments are completed, the spots in the array change color providing visual results within minutes.

Zenhausern and his team designed the VIFAS technology to assess a full range of biomarkers, from proteins to genes. While the Inspiration4 mission will take less than a week to complete, it will provide a unique opportunity to apply the VIFAS technology to help researchers study the molecular and physiological levels in the human body under extreme zero gravity conditions. This biomedical data will offer valuable insights and help inform the measures necessary to protect future astronaut crews in orbit during longer missions. 

Zero gravity and radiation experienced during space flight can have significant health consequences. Space radiation is risky to the human body, potentially causing damage to the DNA in cells. Radiation exposure may occur during deep-space missions and can increase the risk of long-term health consequences, such as cancer. Adverse effects to the central nervous and cardiovascular systems may also occur. It is difficult to determine remotely the health consequences on the tissues and cells of crew members.

Ali Fattahi, PhD, Works with the VIFAS Technology
Ali Fattahi, PhD, Works with the VIFAS Technology

“As civilian space travel becomes more frequent and accessible, the university is well positioned to lead in the important, emerging field of aerospace biomedicine,” said Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, PhD, the university’s senior vice president for Research and Innovation. “The new knowledge Dr. Zenhausern’s group will create through SpaceX Inspiration4 is really the tip of the iceberg toward a better understanding of in-flight health.”

The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) funded the project, which is part of a research complement to be conducted during the multi-day journey. The Inspiration4 crew, commanded by Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, will contribute to the space biomedical community by participating in important scientific research during the mission.

If the VIFAS platform is validated by the Inspiration4 crew, it could provide a valuable blood and saliva analysis system to support the health and performance of future space crews. The biomedical samples collected during the Inspiration4 mission will become part of a biobank used for future collaborations by research teams at SpaceX, TRISH and the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.

“Innovation and problem-solving to improve health are at the core of what we do. That impact has been felt in Arizona, around the world and now for those in space,” said Guy Reed, MD, MS, dean of the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. “This collaboration with TRISH, SpaceX and the Center for ANBM creates synergies that will help to protect humans against radiation injury and other hazards that they encounter during space travel. It will fuel the development of new therapies and preventive strategies for crew members and patients here on Earth and beyond.”



Source link

‘Completely in awe’: Tech students travel to SpaceX launch | Local News







Kennedy Space Center LCCTC.jpg

Students and teachers from the Limestone County Career Technical Center’s Team 34 Rockets traveled to Florida to witness a SpaceX launch in real life. One student described the experience to pre-engineering teacher and team mentor Damon Faris as “the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”




Fifteen students and four adults with the Limestone County Career Technical Center got the trip of a lifetime last week: watching the launch of a SpaceX rocket live.

East Limestone senior and third-year tech student Miranda Haynes said it’s something she’s seen several times through live streams or video replays, but she was “not prepared for how beautiful it looked.”

“It was just really exciting,” she said. “I just remember being really ‘ahh’ and completely in awe of just how amazing it looked. It looked like the sun coming out, rising above the clouds.”

The launch took place Friday and marked the third crew flight in less than a year for SpaceX. Four astronauts from the U.S., Japan and France were on the flight, with plans to arrive and spend six months at the International Space Station.

Dakota McKinney, an Elkmont junior and first-year tech student, said it was a feeling like no other to watch their launch live, “especially when the wave of it finally hits you.”

The students are all part of Team 34 Rockets, and witnessing the launch was the team mentors’ way of making up for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic’s effects on their year, according to Damon Faris, pre-engineering teacher at LCCTC. Faris said the team usually spends the year fundraising and preparing for a competition against other robotics teams, but when it looked like a competition may not happen, the team mentors began discussing what to do instead.






LCCTC SpaceX launch.jpg

A recycled SpaceX capsule and rocket carrying four astronauts begins its journey to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Friday. Members and mentors of the Limestone County Career Technical Center’s Team 34 Rockets traveled to Florida to witness the launch.




“We saw that the Crew 2 launch was coming up at the end of April, beginning of May, so we decided, ‘Well, we’ll see if we can do that,'” Faris said. “At the time, we couldn’t travel at all outside of competitions.”

Fortunately, the pandemic lifted enough that they were granted approval to make the trip for the SpaceX launch. Faris said it was great to give his students something they could remember and bond over, especially for the seniors that had been a part of the team for multiple years.

“We even got to see the booster come down and land way off in the distance,” Faris said. “We’ve watched it many times on the screen, but to see it go down way over the horizon was really, really cool.”

Students were also able to explore the Kennedy Space Center and tourist attractions during their three-day stay in Florida. When speaking to The News Courier on Monday, Ardmore senior and third-year tech student Travis Kelly was sporting a Ron Jon Surf Shop shirt, saying he planned to savor the memory of the trip because “you’ll never see it again.”

Haynes, however, has a different plan. With her two years of design work, one year of programming, the SpaceX launch experience and everything else she’s learned, she is looking forward to attending the University of Alabama this fall with a major in physics, minor in astronomy and a dream of being an astrophysicist.

“Oh, I’m going to see it again,” she said of SpaceX launches. “I’m going to be working the next one.”






LCCTC Atlantis.jpg

The space shuttle Atlantis rests at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Limestone County Career Technical Center pre-engineering teacher Damon Faris, who provided the photo, and his students said seeing the exhibit firsthand was an incredible and much loved experience.




Faris said several of the students were moved by the trip.

“It’s so special,” he said. “I had one kid tell me over and over, ‘Mr. Faris, this is the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I’m so glad we got to come.'”

He said being able to compete and attend rocket launches in the same year might not be feasible, but the team mentors are already discussing a trip in Fall 2024 to Texas so students can watch the next solar eclipse.





Source link