SpaceX announced it will launch the first all-commercial astronaut mission this year to orbit Earth, the US aerospace manufacturer said in a statement on Monday.
In addition to flying astronauts for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the company’s Dragon spacecraft is also designed to carry commercial astronauts to the Earth’s orbit, the space station, or beyond, it said.
The California-based space transportation services company said it targets “no earlier than the fourth quarter of this year” for its Falcon 9 rocket to launch for the low Earth orbit mission named “Inspiration4”.
American businessman Jared Isaacman, the founder and CEO of payment processor Shift4 Payments, will provide financial support for the mission. He will be donating three seats alongside him aboard Dragon to individuals from the general public who will be announced later.
The four commercial astronauts will receive various training by SpaceX on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft.
The training will include orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, zero gravity, forms of stress testing, emergency preparedness, spacesuit, and spacecraft ingress, and egress exercises, in addition to partial and full mission simulations.
Their journey in the Earth’s orbit will last multiple days before the astronauts re-enter the atmosphere for a soft-water landing off the coast of the US state of Florida.