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Fancy a free seat on SpaceX’s first space tourism mission?

Just days after Axiom Space announced a plan to fly three private citizens to the International Space Station in early 2022 at a cost of $55 million each, SpaceX has revealed its own space tourism adventure that will take four people into Earth orbit later this year.

The Inspiration4 mission, announced on Monday, February 1, will be led by Shift4 Payments founder and CEO Jared Isaacman, who secured the exclusive flight in a private deal with SpaceX.

But here’s the really interesting part — Isaacman is donating the other three seats aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to individuals from the general public.

That’s right, folks. You don’t need tens of millions of dollars for this astonishing once-in-a-lifetime experience, though you will need a heck of a lot of luck. And to be a U.S. citizen.

This mission enables access for everyday people who dream of going to space

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 1, 2021

There are two ways of making yourself available for selection. The first is by making a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, in which case your name will be entered into a draw. The second is by opening an online store using Shift4Shop and then sharing your business story on Twitter, with a panel of judges selecting a winner.

Both winners will be notified on or around March 3 and announced publicly soon after.

The fourth seat will go to a former St. Jude patient who is now a medical staffer at the hospital, according to Inspiration4’s website.

Isaacman is an experienced jet pilot, rated to fly dozens of commercial, military, and experimental aircraft, and will be trained as the Inspiration4 flight commander.

The three other crew members will receive commercial astronaut training by SpaceX for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Crew Dragon spacecraft that will take them into Earth orbit on a trip that will last up to five days, ending with a water landing off the coast of Florida.

At the end of last month, Axiom Space announced it will be taking a crew of private citizens to the space station in 2022, also using SpaceX’s transportation hardware.

The missions mark a major step forward for space tourism services that offer private citizens breathtaking experiences outside of Earth’s atmosphere.

Others aiming to enter the business include Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, though their particular services will offer suborbital trips lasting only a matter of minutes and going no further than the Karman line 62 miles up — generally considered as the starting point of space.

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Trevor Mogg
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