Planned to launch this year is SpaceX’s Polaris Dawn mission, a follow-up to the successful Inspiration4 voyage that sent four private individuals into low-Earth orbit for three days in 2021.
Polaris Dawn, slated for launch in March at the earliest, will take four privates — including Jared Isaacman, who led the Inspiration4 mission — into space aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon ship for five days.
Targeting an orbit of about 435 miles (700 km) above Earth, the crew will be much further out than the International Space Station, which orbits about 250 miles (402 km) above Earth, and significantly higher than the 364 miles (585 kilometers). ) achieved by the Inspiration4 crew.
The Polaris Dawn mission is also set to conduct the first-ever commercial spacewalk using spacesuits designed by SpaceX.
“It takes thousands of space suits to build a base on the moon and a city on Mars,” the mission team said says on his website. “The development of this suit and the execution of the [spacewalk] will be important steps towards scalable spacesuit design for future long-duration missions.”
In another first, the Polaris Dawn crew will test Starlink’s laser-based communications in space, an exercise that should provide useful data for future space communications systems for voyages to the Moon, Mars, and other locations that space exploration will bring to us in the decades to come will lead.
During the mission, the Polaris Dawn crew will also conduct scientific research aimed at improving both human health on Earth and our understanding of human health on future long-term spaceflights.
Isaacman, Founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, will be joined by Anna Menon, who at SpaceX leads development of crew operations and works in mission control as both mission leader and crew communicator. Menon this week shared some images taken with the crew during a recent decompression sickness risk study.
Crewmember Sarah Gillis also works at SpaceX and is tasked with overseeing the company’s astronaut training program. Joining those three is Scott Poteet, a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel who served 20 years in a variety of roles, including piloting an F-16 fighter jet.
Polaris Dawn will launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. A specific date for the mission is not yet known.
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