Elon Musk’s SpaceX is slated later Wednesday to launch four civilians into space where they’ll spend three days orbiting the planet.
The mission, called Inspiration4, is scheduled to blast off at 8:02 p.m. ET from Cape Canaveral, Florida, spend three days in orbit and then splashdown somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.
The four soon-to-be astronauts will ride in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule atop a reusable Falcon 9 rocket.
The Dragon capsule is aiming for an altitude of 335 miles — about 75 miles higher than the International Space Station and on a level with the Hubble Space Telescope.
The group has been training for months since the flight crew was announced in March, though they won’t be responsible for actually operating the spacecraft.
Here’s who’s flying on the historic launch:
Jared Isaacman, the founder and CEO of payments processing firm Shift4 Payments who’s also an accomplished jet pilot, paid an undisclosed sum to Musk’s SpaceX for the flight, with Time Magazine pegging the figure at $200 million.
The 38-year-old father of two, who has an estimated net worth of $2.4 billion, will lead the trip as “commander” of the mission.
Isaacman’s a chronic entrepreneur who started his first business designing websites for local businesses at age 15, a year before he dropped out of high school.
In the late 2000s, he started flying planes as a hobby, he told Forbes, and by 2009, at age 26, set the record for the fastest flight around the world in a light jet, flying from and to Morristown, New Jersey, in 61 hours and 51 minutes.
He eventually wracked up enough flight hours to fly fighter jets and at age 28, he started what would become the world’s largest private air force, Draken International, and then sold it to private-equity firm Blackstone for a nine-figure sum.
Isaacman has touted his trip to space with the Musk-helmed company as “the realization of a lifelong dream” and he’s promoted the mission as an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The tech mogul has pledged $100 million to the institute.
“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,” Isaacman said in February.
Isaacman donated one of the seats on his commissioned flight to Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a bone cancer survivor turned St. Jude physician assistant, will serve as the mission’s “chief medical officer.”
Arceneaux, who lost part of her left thigh and knee to cancer at age 10, has touted that the mission will make her both the youngest American and the first person with a prosthetic body part to go into space.
Arceneaux has previously said she wanted to take part in the spaceflight to show her young patients “what life can look like after cancer.”
As a child, she had dreamt of becoming an astronaut, but her early cancer diagnosis cast doubt on her dreams, she told Space.com.
“I have a metal rod in my leg from when they saved my leg, and so I never thought I’d be an astronaut,” she told the outlet.
Chris Sembroski, 42, an Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer at aerospace giant Lockheed Martin in Everett, Washington, won a seat aboard the flight in a sweepstakes giveaway that drew 72,000 applicants and raised $113 million in St. Jude donations.
In college, Sembroski spent free time launching high-powered model rockets and serving as a volunteer with ProSpace, a grassroots organization that lobbied Capitol Hill in support of private space ventures.
He was also a counselor for Space Camp, the famously rigorous government-funded science, technology and engineering youth camp in Huntsville, Alabama.
He went on to serve in the US Air Force as an electro-mechanical technician. He was deployed to Iraq and helped maintain a fleet of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles before leaving active duty in 2007.
He will serve as “mission specialist” on the Inspiration4 flight.
“It’s just exciting for me to really be able to merge my professional career back into aerospace, doing the work that I do,” Sembroski told Space.com
Sian Proctor, 51, is a community college educator in Tempe, Arizona. She nabbed her ticket to space by winning a contest held by Isaacman’s Shift4Shop eCommerce platform that sought inspirational entrepreneurs worthy of being “elevated to the stars.”
A geoscience professor at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix with a doctorate in science education, Proctor has attributed her lifelong passion for space exploration to her father, who worked at the NASA tracking station in Guam during the Apollo missions.
She’s a licensed pilot and major in Arizona’s Civil Air Patrol, and she’s completed four “analog” astronaut projects, including a NASA-funded four-month artificial mission to Mars to study food strategies for long-duration spaceflights.
Proctor also was a 2009 finalist in NASA’s astronaut candidate program, and the Inspiration4 flight will make her only the fourth African-American woman ever to fly to space.
“I’m gonna sit in our cupula and write poetry as I look back at our amazing planet,” Proctor told Space.com.
Becoming an astronaut is “like being lost in the Chocolate Factory,” she added.
“It’s all good and delicious all the time, nonstop. Just so much happening. Lots of new training happening, getting prepared. It’s exciting.”
With Post wires