A billionaire CEO is on track to go into space more than any human in 50 years

The first flight in the series of missions, dubbed “Polaris” after North Star, is scheduled to begin later this year and will last up to five days and include a crew of Isaacman and three other people. It is expected to travel to the Van Allen radiation belt, which has an inner range extending from about 400 to 6000 miles above Earth, in part to help the crew research how radiation in space affects the human body. Radiation remains a major concern for spaceflights to the Moon and Mars, SpaceX says, because it requires prolonged exposure to radiation, which can lead to an “increased risk of cancer and degenerative diseases” and other long-term effects, according to NASA.

When asked on a press call Monday, Isaacman said the Gemini missions of the 20th century, which set altitude records at the time, are evidence of just how high the first Polaris mission was. The Gemini missions have reached an altitude of about 850 miles – or three times higher than where the International Space Station orbits. Isaac refused to share a certain altitude for the flight.

During this mission, the crew will conduct a space walk, a first for anyone traveling aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule. Isaacman announced on NBC’s Today Show Monday morning and in an interview with Washington Post.

Isaacman, who gained international attention when he bought the first SpaceX cruise called Inspiration 4, said the first Dragon mission would be followed by the second Dragon mission shortly thereafter. These two missions will pave the way for the first-ever manned mission on SpaceX’s upcoming Starship rocket, which Elon Musk hopes will one day take people to Mars.

“We’re going to go further into space than humans have gone since we last walked on the moon,” he said on the Today programme.

It’s not clear if all of this will go according to plan, nor has SpaceX said if it will need to complete additional testing before Isaacman can make his journey into deep space. SpaceX also did not address whether there were any updates the Crew Dragon would need to safely complete the mission. So far, the spacecraft has only carried astronauts on flights to low Earth orbit, or the area of ​​space immediately surrounding Earth. Mission Inspiration 4 marks the Crew Dragon’s tallest flight to date, at nearly 360 miles, and Monday’s announcement indicated that the first Polaris mission will fly at least twice that limit.

It’s not clear how much these missions will cost Isaacman, and he declined to comment on the matter Monday morning. He also didn’t reveal how much he paid for the Inspiration 4 mission last year, although he did say so I paid less than 200 million dollars.

“We know the space is expensive,” Isakman said when asked about the costs of the Polaris program during a media call, adding that it was already “fully funded.”

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“Costs will come down just as with any other groundbreaking technology,” he said. “This is a contribution from myself and SpaceX towards the important goals we want to achieve with the Polaris program.”

Described as a fundraising drive from St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Mission Inspiration 4 has generated a total of $243 million for the organization. Isaacman donated about $100 million, Musk gave another $50 million and the rest was raised through public donations. Polaris missions are also expected to support the same cause.

On the first Polaris mission, Isaacman will be joined by veteran Air Force fighter pilot Scott Poteet and two SpaceX operations engineers – Sarah Gillies and Anna Menon, who will serve as the onboard medical officer. Isaacman will be the only crew member with previous spaceflight experience.

Jared Isakman in December 2020.
Aside from his spaceflight ambitions, Isaacman also flies jet planes recreationally. Recently, he was seen flying an Alpha Jet, often used to train pilots SpaceX spacecraft facilities in southern Texas.

Poteet is a former Vice President of Shift 4 who spent 20 years in the Air Force. Potet also served as flight director on the ground in support of Ilham 4. He and Isaacman are also frequent airline partners.

Gillis and Menon may be the first SpaceX employees to travel to space.

Details about the spacewalk the Polaris crew plans to perform on the first flight are light, but a press release states that they will use a “SpaceX-designed Extravehicular Spacesuit (EVA), which has been upgraded from the current in-vehicle (IVA) suit.” The IVA suit refers to the black and white compressed spacesuits worn by NASA astronauts and the Inspiration 4 crew aboard the Dragon during launch and return.

But getting out of the spacecraft while in orbit would require a much larger protection system. NASA has describe it Its EVA suit “as a miniature spaceship in the shape of a human body protects the astronaut from the dangers of being outside the vehicle while in space or on the moon,” providing protection from “radiation, dust, debris and extreme temperatures.”

According to its website, the space march will take place when the Crew Dragon flies 300 miles above Earth, or roughly the same height as the International Space Station.

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Many technical details are still unknown. The Crew Dragon, for example, does not have an airlock, which would allow one person to exit the spacecraft in the EVA while the remaining crew members remain safely confined within their airtight, pressurized cabin. Without the airlock locked, the entire cabin would become hypo-pressurized – as happened during spacewalks by NASA astronauts during Gemini missions.

“For this mission, the suit that we will design will be one that we will launch [in] Then use similarly with EVA,” Gillis said.

“We’re certainly going to do it safely,” Menon added.

Also on Polaris’ first mission, the crew will test the use of Starlink – SpaceX’s satellite internet business – for communications in space. So far, Starlink has only been used to send internet connectivity to customers on the ground, but Polaris’ press release notes that the system could be used to support communications during orbital flights.

During the mission, the crew will also conduct some research related to health, IIncluding a study on decompression sickness and another that focuses on how astronauts can alleviate spaceflight-associated neuro-ophthalmic syndrome, or SANS, a condition that can Alterations of eye and brain structure caused by weightlessness have been reported by up to 70% of astronauts. Symptoms can included Loss of near vision, blind spots, headache, loss of depth perception.

Starship

The flight schedule of the Isaacman spacecraft is not entirely clear. During a presentation about the Starship in Texas last week, Musk said that while he hopes the vehicle — which has so far conducted short, sub-orbital “jump tests” — will conduct its first orbital flight test this year, without a crew. However, that may depend on whether federal regulators give SpaceX approval to launch the Starship from southern Texas, where the company has already built an orbital launch pad and the vast majority of the Starship’s resources are located.

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It could mean that Isaacman jumps to the first billionaire who bought the Starship mission – Japanese fashion mogul Yusaku Maezawa. Maezawa has paid SpaceX an undisclosed amount of money to secure a seat for himself and a group of artists on the spacecraft’s flight around the moon, hoping to take off as soon as 2023. Maezawa is still in the process of deciding who to take with him.

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

The spacecraft is expected to be far more powerful than any rocket ever built by mankind. Musk said he would boast about the poor thrust of the Saturn 5 rockets that drove moon landings in the past century.

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