In big step for space tourism, the first chartered passenger flight for Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched Wednesday night. The video above shows the launch.
The four passengers on the SpaceX flight, referred to as Inspiration4, was expected to spend three days orbiting Earth at an altitude of 357 miles. That’s 100 miles higher than the International Space Station.
“Now, this is significant and historic because it’s going to be the highest that any humans have gone into orbit since the Hubble servicing missions, and in fact, they’ll be above the current orbit of the Hubble,” Benjamin Reed, the director of Crew Mission Management at SpaceX, said.
Wednesday’s SpaceX flight takeoff was also historic because it was the first time ever that no professional astronaut was aboard an orbit-bound rocket.
Pennsylvania entrepreneur and billionaire Jared Isaacman paid for the SpaceX flight. So far he has not shared the cost of the flight.
Isaacman was joined by St. Jude physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux and sweepstake winners Chris Sembroski and Sian Proctor. Sembroski is a data engineer and Proctor is a community college educator. The SpaceX flight was more than just a joyride for the passengers.
“I’m so excited about the medical research that we’re going to be doing on this flight and we’re going to be collecting a lot of swabs to learn about the microbiome, how that changes in flight,” Arceneaux said. “We’re going to be performing ultrasounds, evaluate for fluid shifts, as well as performing some cognitive tests in setting radiation effects of going to our high altitude.”
There was charity aspect to the SpaceX flight as well. Isaacman said he’s using the flight to try to raise $200 million for St. Jude.
“We’re very focused on making sure that we give back every bit of that time that we get in orbit for the people and the causes that matter most to us,” Isaacman said.
Half of that $200 million was expected to come straight from Isaacman’s pockets.
Inspiration4 was expected to land in the ocean off the Florida coast this weekend.
The SpaceX flight comes in the middle of a billionaire space race. Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson and Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos have already launched aboard their own rockets. However, their flights barely skimmed space and lasted just minutes.