Monday, Feb. 1, launched a new era of spaceflight, where any citizen can have the chance to take a ride out of the atmosphere and see the Earth from an infrequent vantage point.
SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, announced it will be launching its first all-civilian flight crew into space later this year, and members of the public can enter a drawing for one of the seats in the Crew Dragon capsule.
The four-person mission’s official name is “Inspiration4,” and its objective goes far beyond breaking the barriers of space travel. The mission has another goal focused on bettering childhood cancer patients’ lives, specifically at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in Memphis.
With the help of SpaceX and 37-year-old billionaire Jared Issacman, they intend to raise at least $200 million for cancer research at St. Jude by the time of the launch. Issacman will be in one of the seats on this flight and has already committed to donating $100 million to the cause. The hope is that the other $100 million will come from the unique raffle they are holding.
Anyone who is a citizen of the United States and 18 or older can enter the raffle. Whoever is chosen for the trip must weigh less than 250 pounds, be under the height of 6’6” and be capable of enduring physical and psychological exams. During a news conference on Monday, Musk stated, “if you can go on a roller coaster ride, like an intense roller coaster ride, you should be fine for flying on Dragon.”
If you think you’re up for it and want to have the chance to win a seat on this flight, all you have to do is donate at least $10 to St. Jude Research Hospital. $10 secures 100 entries into the raffle. The more money donated, means the more entries you will get. Within the first day of the flight’s announcement, they already reached $1 million in donations.
This raffle is what makes Inspiration4 so unique from other talks of private civilian space travel. It is not only accessible to the top 1% of the country; an ordinary citizen has the chance to be a part of this mission with only a small donation necessary.
Each seat on the flight has a unique name and meaning behind it. The “Leadership Seat” will be Issacman’s spot as he will be in charge of operating the spacecraft and therefore serve as the commander. The “Hope Seat” has been set aside for a healthcare worker at St. Jude, who was a former cancer patient there. Although this person’s name has not been announced yet, it will serve as a symbol of hope for all of those affected by cancer. The “Generosity Seat” will be given to one lucky donor chosen from the raffle. This seat is to inspire the action of donation and giving back here on Earth. The last spot is named the “Prosperity Seat” and will be offered to an inspiring entrepreneur chosen by a panel of judges and will highlight the importance of innovative thinking.
The mission is set to launch in October, although the exact date has not been determined yet and will depend on various environmental factors. The raffle and the entrepreneurship competition will remain open until the end of February, and the winners will be announced sometime in March.