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SpaceX reveals target date for a crewed mission like no other

The Polaris Dawn Crew Dragon spacecraft as it will look in orbit.
SpaceX

SpaceX has revealed a target date for its highly anticipated Polaris Dawn mission: July 31. The spaceflight company made the announcement in a post on social media on Wednesday.

The five-day Polaris Dawn mission will see four nonprofessional astronauts fly aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to an orbit some 435 miles (700 kilometers) above Earth. This is about 185 miles (298 kilometers) above the International Station (ISS) and therefore way higher than any Crew Dragon has flown to date.

While orbiting through portions of the Van Allen radiation belt, two Polaris Dawn crew members will participate in the first-ever commercial spacewalk using new, specially designed spacesuits. The walk is expected to last a couple of hours and will test various aspects of the suit, including its ability to move as designed in the microgravity conditions.

The Polaris Dawn mission is being funded and led by billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman, the the CEO of payment processing firm Shift4 and an accomplished pilot. He’s also the guy who flew to low-Earth orbit with three other nonprofessional astronauts in the first all-civilian flight in the Inspiration4 mission in 2021.

Joining Isaacman on the Polaris Dawn mission will be Scott Poteet, a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who served 20 years in various roles; Sarah Gillis, a lead space operations engineer at SpaceX who’s responsible for overseeing the company’s astronaut training program; and Anna Menon, a lead space operations engineer at SpaceX, where she manages the development of crew operations and also serves in mission control.

Polaris Dawn will conduct research with the aim of better understanding the effects of spaceflight and space radiation on human health, and be the first crew to test Starlink laser-based communications in space, providing valuable data for the development of future space communications systems that will be necessary for missions to the moon, Mars, and beyond.

Polaris Dawn could launch as early as the end of this month and will use SpaceX’s trusty Falcon 9 rocket to lift the Crew Dragon to orbit following a launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

It’s possible that the July 31 date could slip. We’ll be sure to share an update if that happens.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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