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SpaceX’s first space tourism astronauts show off their suits

The crew of the world’s first-ever all-civilian rocket ride to orbit is already training for September’s launch aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Shift4 Payments CEO Jared Isaacman, commander of the upcoming Inspiration4 mission, this week tweeted the first photos showing the four crew members in their spacesuits.

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“Another week of training wrapped up at SpaceX for the Inspiration4 crew,” Isaacman wrote in a message accompanying the photos.

Another week of training wrapped up @SpaceX for the @inspiration4x crew. We all got suited up 👍 Lots of academics, simulations & plenty of 💉🩸donations in the interest of science & a variety of medical training too. Back again real soon.

— Jared Isaacman (@rookisaacman) June 22, 2021

The Inspiration4 mission was announced in February 2021 after Isaacman secured the exclusive flight in a private deal with SpaceX. Part of the mission’s aim is to highlight the work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and to raise money for the facility. Isaacman himself has already pledged $100 million to the hospital and is hoping others also will donate what they can.

Among those joining him for the three-day space trip will be Hayley Arceneaux. The 29-year-old physician assistant will set a number of new records during the mission as she will become the first bone cancer survivor to head to space, the first person to travel to orbit with a prosthetic body part (in Arceneaux’s case, prosthetic leg bones), and the youngest American to orbit Earth.

The two other crew members include Dr. Sian Proctor, a trained pilot who was selected for the mission via an online business competition, and Christopher Sembroski, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who works for Lockheed Martin.

Training for September’s mission has been underway for several months and has included a ride in a centrifuge at the National Aerospace Training and Research Center in Pennsylvania to experience launch-like G-forces, and a hike up Washington’s Mount Rainier designed to enhance crew teamwork.

Earlier this year, SpaceX unveiled a new Crew Dragon spacecraft design featuring a glass dome that will guarantee Inspiration4 crew members stunning views of Earth and beyond. Engineers were able to fit the dome in place of the docking mechanism seen on other Dragons as this particular spacecraft won’t be heading to the International Space Station.

Space tourism

Successful completion of the Inspiration4 mission will represent a significant step forward for SpaceX’s plan to launch a commercial space tourism service.

Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic also aim to launch regular space tourism services, though their trips are suborbital and much shorter, and will only go as far as the Kármán line, a point 62 miles above Earth that’s widely regarded as the starting point of space.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns Blue Origin, is planning to ride a New Shepard rocket to the Kármán line with his brother and one other passenger next month in what will be Blue Origin’s first crewed launch in its 21-year history.

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