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With a billionaire’s backing, SpaceX sends citizen spacefliers into orbit for a mission like no other

16 Sep 2021, 00:29 UTC
With a billionaire’s backing, SpaceX sends citizen spacefliers into orbit for a mission like no other
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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Florida, sending a crew of four non-professional spacefliers into orbit.
A tech billionaire and three other non-professional spacefliers blasted off today to begin the first non-governmental, philanthropic mission to orbit.
The founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, Jared Isaacman, is paying what’s thought to be in excess of $100 million for the three-day flight in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. He organized the Inspiration4 mission with SpaceX’s help as a benefit for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, with a goal of raising $200 million — and made a commitment for the first $100 million himself.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:02 p.m. ET (5:02 p.m. PT). “Punch it, SpaceX!” Isaacman told mission control.
On the webcast, every phase of the ascent drew raucous cheers from hundreds of SpaceX employees who gathered at the company’s headquarters in California. Nearly half a million viewers watched the streaming coverage at its peak.
Minutes after liftoff, the rocket’s first-stage booster flew itself back to an at-sea landing on a drone ship, while the second stage pushed the Crew Dragon the rest of the way to orbit.

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