As SpaceX awaits Texas launch approval, company sells 3 more flights to billionaire CEO – CBS Dallas/Fort Worth

BOCA CHICA, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) – Billionaire CEO Jared Isaacman is buying three more flights with SpaceX, the first of which is slated for this year and could put Isaacman and SpaceX on track to travel deeper into space than any human has traveled in half a century.

The first flight in the series of missions, called “Polaris” after the North Star, will last up to five days and include a crew of Isaacman and three others. The crew will perform a spacewalk, a first for anyone traveling aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule. Isaacman made the announcement on NBC’s Today Show Monday morning and in an interview with The Washington Post.

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Isaacman, who gained international attention when he purchased SpaceX’s first all-touring flight dubbed “Inspiration 4,” said the first Dragon mission will be followed by a second Dragon mission shortly thereafter. These two missions will pave the way for the first-ever crewed mission on SpaceX’s next Starship rocket, the one Elon Musk hopes to one day carry to Mars. Isaacman didn’t share many details about those plans, except that during this series of missions he plans to travel to “deep space” – which is generally defined as areas of outer space. located on or beyond the moon.

It’s unclear if all of this will go as planned, nor has SpaceX said if it will need to perform additional testing before Isaacman can make his deep space trip. SpaceX also did not address any updates Crew Dragon will need to complete the mission safely. So far, the spacecraft has only carried astronauts on trips to low Earth orbit, or the area of ​​space directly surrounding Earth. The Inspiration 4 mission marked Crew Dragon’s highest flight so far, at an altitude of around 360 miles, and Monday’s announcement said the Polaris missions will go further than that.

It is unknown how much these missions will cost Isaacman. He also didn’t reveal how much he paid for the Inspiration 4 mission last year, though he said he paid less than $200 million.

The entire Inspiration 4 mission was billed as a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital and raised a total of $243 million for the cause. Isaacman donated about $100 million, Musk invested another $50 million, and the rest was raised through public donations. Polaris missions should also support the same cause.

On the first Polaris mission, Isaacman will be joined by veteran Air Force fighter pilot Scott Poteet, SpaceX operations engineer Sarah Gillis and SpaceX engineer Anna Menon, who will serve as an onboard medic. Isaacman will be the only crew member with previous spaceflight experience.

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The timing of Isaacman’s ship flight is not entirely clear. During a Starship presentation in Texas last week, Musk said while he was hopeful the vehicle – which has so far only performed brief suborbital “jump tests” – would make its first flight test orbital this year, unmanned. That, however, could hinge on whether federal regulators give SpaceX approval to launch Starship out of South Texas, where the company has already set up an orbital launch pad and where the vast majority are located. Starship resources.

This could mean Isaacman surpasses the first billionaire who bought a Starship mission – Japanese fashion mogul Yusaku Maezawa. Maezawa paid SpaceX an undisclosed sum of money to secure a spot for himself and a group of performers on a Starship trip around the moon, hoping it could lift off as soon as 2023. Maezawa is still deciding who he’s going to take with him.

Musk also said during the presentation that he hopes Starship will cost less than $10 million per flight within a few years, which, if available, would be much cheaper than any other rocket on the market.

The ship is expected to be far more powerful than any rocket ever built by mankind. Musk said he would have twice the thrust of the Saturn V rockets that powered the moon landings of the last century.

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