Through the funding of tech startup entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, SpaceX is set to launch its first-ever orbital mission crewed entirely by civilians.
The payment processing company founder will be footing the bill for the multi-million dollar multi-day trip aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule.
According to a press release, Isaacman purchased a seat aboard the mission along with three additional seats. He will reportedly be the commander of the mission, which is slated to launch before the end of the year. The billionaire has no prior experience with flying spacecraft but he has experience piloting airplanes.
One of the seats aboard the mission will be donated to an "ambassador" from the St. Jude Children's Hospital, while another seat will be given to a random applicant from the public. Isaacman said that the "ambassador" has already been chosen. He declined to identify the person but said that it was a female front-line healthcare worker that had helped thousands of kids beat cancer.
The last seat will be given to the winner of a contest that will be launched on Isaacman's e-commerce platform Shift4Shop. Applicants will reportedly be required to submit a video of their "entrepreneurial story" to become eligible. The submissions will then be reviews by a "panel of celebrity judges." The names of the judges were not disclosed.
Once the winners of the contests have been determined, Isaacman and the would-be astronauts will need to undergo a 30-day training program to prepare for the mission.
SpaceX's chief executive officer, Elon Musk, said that he will not be aboard the flight. Musk said that he wants to be aboard a mission one day "but not this one." Musk did not disclose any other details about the trip, including how long it would be and when exactly it would be launched.
Isaacman said that the mission, officially dubbed Inspiration4, is meant to "inspire humanity" while also helping tackle issues such as childhood cancer. Apart from paying for the entire trip, Isaacman will also be committing $100 million to hospitals as part of a fundraising program to support cancer research.
"[Inspire4] is the realization of a lifelong dream and a step towards a future in which anyone can venture out and explore the stars," Isaacman said.