Elon Musk and his company SpaceX recently announced their first all-civilian-crewed space flight. This will be the first mission to space where the passengers won’t be NASA-trained astronauts. The crew for the Inspiration4 mission will be trained on site to be prepared to go to space.
SpaceX has launched two crewed flights to the International Space Station comprising U.S. and international astronauts. However, this Inspiration4 will be the first crew of civilians who aren’t trained astronauts.
The aims of Inspiration4 mission are noble: to promote a charity for the Saint Jude Children’s Hospital. The flight will be captained by Jared Issacman, a tech entrepreneur. He started an initial donation of $10,000,000 to promote the event. Then anyone who donated $10 had a chance to be picked for a position on the space crew.
The crew has now been selected, and the flight is set to launch in the fourth quarter of this year. The three other members including Issacman are Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant, Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, and Chris Sembroski, an aeronautical engineer.
Inspiration4 is a historic event for space exploration and for the human race. Space missions for the past hundred years have been the domain of federal governments and exclusive personnel. Now for the first time, a group of regular people like you and me, are going to be able to leave the planet.
This mission opens the door for potential future private enterprises into space. The upcoming economic implications of civilian space travel are promising. SpaceX already employs 10,000 people. The global space economy including satellite communication and technology makes 423.8 billion dollars a year. Similar private space companies are cropping up all over the country like Blue Origin and Virgin Orbit. This mission could inspire countless future scientists and engineers.
Private space ventures help the development of various sciences such as astronomy, geology, biology, etc. The basic research capable of being done outside of the atmosphere is immensely valuable. Private space allows space travel for research to be cheaper and more accessible. If there are more crews going into space, there is more potential for research to be done connected to these new missions. In the 2018 budget request, NASA showed broad support for private sectors of space travel.
Space exploration is the next crucial and necessary step for our species. Think of how the human race will change its priorities if a large portion of us could see the planet in context. This may seem like fluffy semantics, but it truly could change the paradigm attitude of our existence. Carl Sagan once said, “There is perhaps no better a demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.”
Perhaps this new mission will create a future where more of us can see that demonstration.