SpaceX Sends First All-Civilian Crew to Big Boy Space

The company successfully launched four amateur astronauts into orbit as part of its privately financed "Inspiration4" mission.


On Wednesday, SpaceX successfully completed the first launch of an all-civilian crew into Earth's orbit, marking another milestone for both the company and the nascent private space industry.

At 8 p.m. yesterday evening, one of the company's Falcon9 rockets took off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, carrying four amateur astronauts inside a Crew Dragon space capsule some 360 miles above Earth's surface.

The crew of the "Inspriation4" mission includes billionaire Jared Issacman (who financed the launch), as well as geology professor Sian Proctor, physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux, and Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran who works at Lockheed Martin.

"Few have come before, and many are about to follow. The door's open now, and it's pretty incredible," said Issacman during a livestream of the launch, per the Wall Street Journal.

The mission is scheduled to last three days, during which time the crew will circle the earth about once every 90 minutes. They'll then splash down at one of several possible landing sites off the Florida coast, according to SpaceX's website.

The launch is intended partly as a fundraiser—it's supposed to raise $200 million for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital—and to study the effect of the human body in space.

It's also yet another proof-of-concept launch for the nascent private space tourism industry. Earlier this summer, billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos traveled into space aboard their respective space companies' own vehicles.

Branson's Virgin Galactic is already selling tickets for future space flights at the bargain price of $450,00 per seat.

Of the billionaire-backed space companies, SpaceX—founded by Elon Musk in 2002—is clearly ahead of the pack. Its Inspiration4 mission actually made it into orbit (i.e. big boy space). That's almost 300 miles higher than either Branson and Bezos', still impressive, but nonetheless, suborbital flights managed.

Last May, the company's Crew Dragon capsule ferried two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station—the first time U.S. astronauts had been carried into space from U.S. soil since the Space Shuttle's retirement in 2011.

SpaceX has been a boon to NASA's space mission, developing new launch vehicles and performing missions for a fraction of the cost of some of the agency's other programs.

Wednesday's launch is even more exciting for wide-eyed libertarian futurists. No longer is SpaceX just helping the government save some tax dollars. It's now sending private citizens into space on privately owned, privately financed spacecraft.

Provided everyone makes it back to Earth safely, the "Inspriation4" mission is proof that commercial spaceflight's best days are ahead of it.

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  1. Elon rocks.

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  3. Your girlfriend’s birthday is coming up, but you are one of those who are wondering. Where can I get beautiful birthday messages for my girlfriend in 2021? It has happened to all of us at some point, and I have to tell you that you are in the right place.
    Thinking about it, we have made a compilation of some nice birthday phrases for your girlfriend that you can find on the net.

    1. yeah, I think I’ll stick with the local Hallmark shop

  4. How much money has that company gotten from the government?

    1. A lot less than its competitors for much better results.

    2. Millions, but strangely enough the government has actually been getting something back for it.

    3. The sin is not that SpaceX got paid by the government for services rendered and more cheaply than anyone else (including NASA) could have done it.

      The sin is that government is robbing taxpayers to do things it has no business doing.

    4. Fuck this universe for making me agree with sarcasmic.

    5. A fair amount, but NASA has received value for the money.

      Unlike say Boeing which has sucked up $20+ billion and produced nothing under the SLS program. And will go on spending money on it.

  5. Hopefully Bezos doesn’t manage to shut them down with a blizzard of frivolous law suits, because he can’t manage to build competitive hardware.

    1. Penis comparisons aside, the New Shepard is a great suborbital platform.
      If Bezos could focus his energy on the New Glenn instead of bullshit lawsuits he could have a great orbital platform one day too.

  6. AOC complains while attending a $30,000 per plate dinner.

    1. She has never put anything into orbit.

        1. And that never comes down from orbit.

  7. “Few have come before, and many are about to follow. The door’s open now, and it’s pretty incredible,” said Issacman during a livestream of the launch, per the Wall Street Journal.

    It’s no ‘one giant leap’ quote. And I’m trying to understand who the “few before” are.

    1. He’s comparing everyone who’s been to space before with the millions and billions who will follow.

      1. We’re all in space right now, spinning at close to the speed of sound (1000 mph at the equator, slower as you go north or south), orbiting the sun at 67,000 miles per hour, and moving through the galaxy at 483,000 miles per hour with the sun.

        1. Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown,
          And things seem hard or tough,
          And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft,

          And you feel that you’ve had quite eno-o-o-o-o-ough,

          Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
          And revolving at 900 miles an hour.
          It’s orbiting at 19 miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
          The sun that is the source of all our power.
          Now the sun, and you and me, and all the stars that we can see,
          Are moving at a million miles a day,
          In the outer spiral arm, at 40,000 miles an hour,
          Of a galaxy we call the Milky Way.

          Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars;
          It’s a hundred thousand light-years side to side;
          It bulges in the middle sixteen thousand light-years thick,
          But out by us it’s just three thousand light-years wide.
          We’re thirty thousand light-years from Galactic Central Point,
          We go ’round every two hundred million years;
          And our galaxy itself is one of millions of billions
          In this amazing and expanding universe.

          Our universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding,
          In all of the directions it can whiz;
          As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
          Twelve million miles a minute and that’s the fastest speed there is.
          So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
          How amazingly unlikely is your birth;
          And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere out in space,
          ‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth!

  8. Amateur astronauts? It seems like they are doing just about the same stuff as professional astronauts. i.e. riding around in a space vehicle controlled by ground technicians.

    1. You are probably right, but don’t forget the Steely-Eyed Rocket Men who flew on Gemini 8 and Apollo 13.

    2. They are not getting paid to be astronauts.

  9. Interesting…almost as interesting as Nicki Minaj’s tweets.

  10. A “privately funded” space mission orchestrated by a company that gets tens of billions of dollars per year from the US federal government. It’s not like money is fungible or anything.

    1. The money they get from the government is payments on contracts for services rendered.

      1. The same can be said for defense contractors…

    2. I was deeply skeptical of SpaceX. But the simple fact is that they are delivering launch at costs that are ridiculously lower than anything anyone else has been doing. And that is laudable, even if their primary customer is NASA.

      I went to Cape Canaveral a few years back, and it was absurd to see what was on display. The second Falcon Heavy was sitting there on the launch pad ready to test its engines, but everywhere you went in the facility, all you saw was SLS! SLS! SLS! SLS! A boondoggle that has produced exactly nothing in its decades of wasteful spending.

      I’d rather the government was not in the space trucking industry. But if they are going to do so, I’d rather put their money into a company that is developing a sustainable commercial business, than companies like Boeing whose sole purpose is to bring in more and more money each year from the government for special purpose vehicles.

    3. They aren’t receiving 10s of billions of dollars each year. Not even Boeing is getting that much.

    4. By this thinking, is no one who got a stimulus check or a tax credit a private individual anymore?

  11. Fuck… off…

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  12. I understand Musk deserves the criticism for many of his financial dealings. Carbon credits, etc. But the absolute innovation of the reusability of the Falcon 9 made this country a leader in space again. Give the man the credit for that. Boeing, ULA, Lockheed, etc. had no incentive to do better. Rockets paid for by the Government were on a cost plus basis. Reverse incentives to spend taxpayer money. Look at the overpriced embarrassment the NASA/Boeing SLS is. Musk showed the world how to do it. He is being copied, United Launch Alliance has a reusable unit under development. I hope it works. China and Russia are now behind us. Europe is lost as they have invested a lot of money on the next generation of Ariane but it is obvious that it will not compete. Irrationally, I like space exploration. Doing it Musk’s way seems a whole lot better than the NASA way and starts to move toward practical and financial viable used for space. Note: I have designed machinery for SpaceX (at least 5 inspections systems installed at the LA facility) and Boeing/Lockheed/ULA.

  13. This is one of the few times I will praise Obama. I don’t know if he did this intentionally, or it was slipped past him by some free marketer. Regardless, passing the Commercial Launch Program was one of the greatest things this country has ever done.

    If our country had just focused on similar programs where you incentivize millions of dollars of R&D to earn contracts, we would be in a much better place.

    1. I have never heard of the Commercial Launch Program.
      Do you have any details?
      I have heard of the Commercial Crew Program.

    2. The only thing Obummer did was to cancel the Constellation Program.

  14. as well as geology professor Sian Proctor

    Geology Professor? Phbbt. I don’t need a Ph. D. to tell me you’re going the wrong way Doctor. Earth is ↓ thataway.

    1. Geology rocks!

  15. The second Falcon Heavy was sitting there on the launch pad ready to test its engines

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  16. “Commercial interest duplicates a feat the government performed sixty years ago and the crowd goes wild.”
    The fact that this is even news shows how far we’ve lowered the bar.

    1. NASA did that when it was receiving over 4% of the total federal spending for a decade.
      SpaceX has accomplished what the Space Shuttle program promised (cost/pound, reusability, safety) with a whole lot less.

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