How to Watch William Shatner Boldly Go Where No Shatner Has Gone Before

Should all go according to plan, Shatner, 90, will become the oldest person to travel in space, even if it’s just for a few minutes. The current record belongs to 82-year-old Wally Funk, who set the mark earlier this year during the same flight that took Jeff Bezos to space. That said, NASA astronaut John Glenn flew to space aboard the Space Shuttle at the age of 77, which still makes him the oldest astronaut according to the FAA’s definition of the term (tl;dr: to be an astronaut you actually have to do something while in space, aside from gawking at the view).

After it was announced that Shatner was joining the NS-18 flight, the actor admitted to being terrified. Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Shatner said he’s now feeling “comfortable, but also a bit uncomfortable.” Age, he said, won’t be a factor, aside from having to get in and out the seats both before and after launch.

“So unless you’re really supple, getting in and out of the seats…when we’re in gravity, is a chore,” Shatner said. “But of course it’s designed [for us] to float out of the seat, in weightlessness.” Shatner is most looking forward to being in weightlessness, as everything after that “should be all right.” To which he added: “And we’ll have that moment of inspiration, which I feel will be there when we’re looking into the vastness of the universe.”

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William Shatner touring the launch tower with Blue Origin’s Sarah Knights at Launch Site One in west Texas.

William Shatner touring the launch tower with Blue Origin’s Sarah Knights at Launch Site One in west Texas.
Image: Blue Origin

Following the few minutes of weightlessness, Shatner and his crewmates will return to their seats and buckle up in preparation for re-entry. The capsule will descend with parachute assist and make a soft landing in the desert. The whole thing will last no longer than around 15 minutes.

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NS-18 is poised to be just the second crewed flight of New Shephard. On July 20, Blue Origin successfully sent company founder Jeff Bezos, along with three others, to beyond the Kármán line—the threshold of space according to the International Aeronautical Federation. Flying at a maximum altitude of around 66 miles (106 km), Shatner will be joined by Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer and co-founder of Planet Labs, Glen de Vries, the vice-chair of life sciences and health care at French software company Dassault Systèmes, and Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations and a former flight controller with NASA.

For Bezos, the Shatner flight is serving as a timely distraction. Blue Origin was recently accused of fostering sexism at the workplace and pushing employees to their limits. Claims that the company has been favoring rapid deployment over safety concerns have now led to an FAA investigation. Blue Origin is also embroiled in a legal battle with NASA over a lunar lander contract that the company believes was unfairly awarded to SpaceX.

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What to Know About the Film Crew Shooting the First Movie in Space This Week

The spacecraft should reach the ISS three hours and 17 minutes after launch, which is pretty fast, as far as these things go. Shkaplerov will join the Expedition 66 crew and stay until March of next year, while Shipenko and Peresild will stay on the ISS for at least 12 days, with a tentative return scheduled for October 17.

The filmmakers are hoping to amass between 35 and 40 minutes of footage during their brief stay. Peresild will portray Zhenya—an operating surgeon who has just one month to prepare for a flight to the ISS, where she will attempt to save an ailing cosmonaut’s life. She was chosen for the role following an open competition and after successfully completing physical and medical exams. Runner-up Alyona Mordovina is serving as the backup actress for the mission. Novitsky will play the role of the cosmonaut who needs medical assistance, according to Russia’s state-run TASS news agency.

Using the ISS as a film set is guaranteed to provide an authentic sense of what it’s like to live and work in space. The closest precedent to this is Apollo 13, in which the microgravity scenes were shot inside NASA’s KC-135 aircraft, which is famously known as the “vomit comet.” Because stints of weightlessness were limited to 25 seconds, the cast and crew had to perform 612 flight parabolas to capture the required footage. Needless to say, this won’t be an issue on the ISS, where microgravity is in abundance.

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Actress Yulia Peresild, commander Anton Shkaplerov, and film director Klim Shipenko.

Actress Yulia Peresild, commander Anton Shkaplerov, and film director Klim Shipenko.
Image: Channel One Russia

For the past several months, the film crew has been preparing at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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“We underwent an accelerated course of many important elements that the cosmonauts study over many years. We tried to master them in four months. Of course, this is very fast. We had a lot of theory, practice, endurance, sports—everything imaginable,” Shipenko told TASS. The point, he said, was to not attain the training of a full-fledged cosmonaut, but “to prepare as a participant of a space flight.”

As part of their training, the film crew, along with their respective backups, studied the design of the Soyuz spacecraft and the Russian segment of the ISS. They also received emergency response training, which included simulated water landings and weightlessness training aboard a zero-g aircraft. As TASS reports, Peresild “hadn’t realized how much effort the preparation for the project would require,” but even with hindsight she wouldn’t have given up the opportunity.

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The Roscosmos website describes it as a “scientific and educational project,” but as the Russian space agency admitted last year, the “movie is aimed to popularize Russia’s space activities” and to “glorify [the] cosmonaut profession.” Some Russian scientists and former cosmonauts have complained about the mission, saying the film is diverting resources that could’ve been used elsewhere. As of late August, the producers were still seeking funding for the project.

More: New Cracks on ISS Expose Deteriorating State of Russian Segment.

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Joint Europe-Japan Space Mission Captures Its First Flyby Photos of Mercury

Joint Europe-Japan Spacecraft Captures First Photos of Mercury

The ESA and the Japan Space Exploration Agency launched BepiColombo in 2018 to capture images of Mercury with the goal of uncovering more about its origin and evolution. Only two probes have ever traveled to the planet: Mariner 10, which flew by in 1974 and 1975, and MESSENGER, which orbited Mercury from 2011 to 2015.

This week’s flyby marked BepiColombo’s first of six around Mercury. The space probes passed within 124 miles (199 km) of the planet’s surface.

“The flyby was flawless from the spacecraft point of view, and it’s incredible to finally see our target planet,” said Elsa Montagnon, the mission’s spacecraft operations manager, in an ESA press release.

“It was very exciting to see BepiColombo’s first images of Mercury, and to work out what we were seeing,” added David Rothery, head of the ESA’s Mercury Surface and Composition Working Group. “It has made me even more enthusiastic to study the top quality science data that we should get when we are in orbit around Mercury, because this is a planet that we really do not yet fully understand.”

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The next Mercury flyby is set for June of next year, followed by four more in June 2023, September 2024, December 2024, and January 2025. If everything goes according to plan, BepiColombo will slow down enough to enter Mercury’s orbit by the end of 2025. Then, the two orbiters will begin their main scientific mission: mapping the surface of Mercury to study its surface processes, composition, and magnetic field.

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Flights Allowed to Resume After FAA Probe

The article alleged that the pilots ignored warning lights during the ascent and that VSS Unity risked a landing at an undesignated runway. What’s more, the article reported that the spaceplane flew outside of its federally mandated airspace for nearly two minutes, a claim the FAA later affirmed. Sources told Nicholas Schmidle, the author of the New Yorker piece, that the safest course of action would’ve been to abort the mission, but instead, the pilots flew at full throttle for the required one full minute, allowing Unity to reach an altitude of 53 miles (86 km) above sea level, which qualifies as space. The spaceplane glided back to its designated runway and successfully landed at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Had the pilots aborted the flight, however, Branson would not have become the first billionaire to reach space (Jeff Bezos of Blue origin achieved the same feat just a few weeks later).

The FAA launched a formal investigation on August 11, during which time Virgin Galactic’s spaceplanes were grounded. Results of the probe showed that Unity “deviated from its assigned airspace on its descent from space,” and that Virgin Galactic “failed to communicate the deviation to the FAA as required,” according to the regulator. Virgin Galactic was subsequently given a list of corrective actions, which it has apparently completed to the FAA’s satisfaction.

Virgin Galactic offered more detail in a statement yesterday. The corrective actions included “updated calculations” to expand protected airspace during future flights, designating a larger flight area to make sure Virgin Galactic “has ample protected airspace for a variety of possible flight trajectories during spaceflight missions,” along with steps to “ensure real-time mission notifications to FAA Air Traffic Control.”

“We appreciate the FAA’s thorough review of this inquiry,” Michael Colglazier, Virgin Galactic CEO, said in the statement. “Our test flight program is specifically designed to continually improve our processes and procedures.” To which he added: “The updates to our airspace and real-time mission notification protocols will strengthen our preparations as we move closer to the commercial launch of our spaceflight experience.”

Colglazier said Virgin Galactic is committed to safety at every level, but the company, with its history of tragedy and near-misses, PR fakery, and claims of a deteriorating safety culture, would suggest otherwise. This latest incident, I’m afraid to say, may not be the last for this aspiring space tourism venture.

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Virgin Galactic’s next flight to suborbital space, designated the Unity 23 mission, was supposed to happen in early or mid-October, and we now await an official launch date. As we learned in August, however, this will be the last flight before the company performs inspections and tests of all its vehicles. Commercial flights of SpaceShipTwo are not expected until 2022.

Video Shows Inspiration4 Crew’s First View Through SpaceX Glass Dome

Ambient background noises from the Crew Dragon can be heard as the crew opens the hatch. The mission mascot—a plush golden retriever doll—floats through the capsule. Crew members Chris Sembroski, Hayley Arceneaux, and Jared Isaacman look up in anticipation of the view. Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, the musical classic featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey, plays in the background (Proctor claims it was her idea and that she downloaded the track onto her iPad before launch).

“Oh my gosh,” said Arceneaux. She begins to pull out a long white ribbon from a carrying case, saying, “Alright, I’ve got work to do.” The ribbon is the Dragon hatch seal cover, which is used to “keep hatch seals free of debris and remove the need for periodic cleanings by the crew,” according to NASA. The view of space stops Arceneaux cold, as she’s mesmerized by the scene unfolding in front of her.

Amid the oohs and aahs, Sembroski can be heard saying, “Holy shit,” in what is a wholly appropriate response to the situation. Proctor’s camera captures the incredible view of Earth and the transfixed faces of her crewmates.

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The hatch was opened very early during the three-day mission, which ended with a successful splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, September 18. During a post-flight press conference, Benji Reed, director of crew mission management at SpaceX, said problems were experienced with the Waste Management System (i.e. the toilet), which is located just below the cupola. In a tweet put out yesterday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the same, remarking that, “We had some challenges with [the toilet] this flight,” and that an upgrade is needed.

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No further details were given, but exposure to zero gravity can cause vomiting and diarrhea, part of a condition known as “space adaptation syndrome.” Sufferers may also experience “facial stuffiness from headward shifts of fluids, headaches, and back pain,” according to NASA. The reason for it likely has to do with fluids shifting in the body as a result of microgravity, and/or sensory conflicts, in which a person struggles in the absence of a discernible up and down. Around half of all astronauts experience space sickness during their first few days in space.

In a tweet, Isaacman said moving and working in microgravity “came really naturally for all of us.” He had a “minor pressure feeling” in his head, “kind of like hanging upside down from your bed, took about 36 hours to start to subside for me.”

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We don’t know if any of the Inspiration4 crew members got sick, but the faulty toilet doesn’t sound like fun, especially given the cramped quarters. Hopefully SpaceX will figure something out.

More: NASA chose a really sweet spot to land its upcoming lunar rover.

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NASA Chose a Really Sweet Spot to Land Its Upcoming Lunar Rover

Indeed, the lunar South Pole is among the coldest places in the solar system. No space agency has ever attempted a landing there, and it’s only been studied from a distance. Evidence suggests water ice exists in meaningful quantities within the southern polar regions, hiding in shadowed craters and cold traps. By sending VIPER to Nobile Crater, NASA hopes to uncover signs of this ice and other resources, both on the surface and subsurface of the Moon.

“The data VIPER returns will provide lunar scientists around the world with further insight into our Moon’s cosmic origin, evolution, and history, and it will also help inform future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond by enabling us to better understand the lunar environment in these previously unexplored areas hundreds of thousands of miles away,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters, said in a statement.

Big picture is that NASA wants to create a global resource map and be able to predict where similar resources might exist elsewhere on the Moon. This information will be of benefit to future crewed missions to the lunar surface, while furthering NASA’s goal of establishing a long-term presence on the Moon. The $433.5 million VIPER mission could also set the stage for future mining efforts on the surface.

Conceptual image of VIPER.

Conceptual image of VIPER.
Image: NASA Ames/Daniel Rutter

VIPER will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket and be delivered to the lunar surface via Astrobotic’s Griffin Lander. The 8-foot-tall (2.5 meters) rover is expected to travel between 10 to 15 miles (16 to 24 km) over the course of the mission, during which time it’ll explore a region measuring 36 square miles (93 square kilometers).

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Nobile Crater features accessible terrain and a trove of nearby sites worthy of scientific exploration, including a bunch of small shadowed craters that VIPER will be able to explore with its headlights—the first for an off-world rover. The four-wheeled rover also features an advanced suspension system to help it navigate through even the softest regolith. Several spectrometers and a hammer drill will enable VIPER’s scientific endeavors.

Data visualization showing the mountainous area west of Nobile Crater.

Data visualization showing the mountainous area west of Nobile Crater.
Image: NASA

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This mountainous region features many areas permanently cast in shadows, but also areas exposed to sunlight. These illuminated areas will be of crucial importance to the mission, as VIPER will use its solar panels to recharge and stay warm—another factor for choosing Nobile Crater.

The current plan is for VIPER to visit six distinct sites of scientific interest, with “additional time to spare,” according to NASA. Samples will be extracted from at least three different drill sites and taken from various depths and temperatures. The mission could provide insights into how the Moon acquired its frozen water and other resources, how they’re preserved over time, and how much of it escapes into space.

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More: NASA’s big Moon news: there’s water all over the place.

Elon Musk Miffed That Joe Biden Hasn’t Personally Praised SpaceX’s Inspiration4 Mission

Elon Musk: Joe Biden ‘Sleeping’ on SpaceX Inspiration4 Praise

Musk later replied “Seems that way” to a meme portraying the United Auto Workers, which Tesla has long tried to suppress from organizing workers at its auto plants, as having a facehugger-like stranglehold on Biden’s face. Tesla was recently not on the invite list at a White House event promoting electric vehicles, quite possibly because of its anti-union record. This month, Musk has publicly complained that a Biden administration proposal to give a $12,500 tax incentive to buyers of electric vehicles must have been written by “Ford/UAW lobbyists” because it includes a $4,500 credit for cars that are union-made.

What could be said about this is that it’s pretty standard Musk stuff, referring to both the tweeting what might have been left better unsaid, the paper-thin ego drawing trouble for one of his companies, and the pages of resulting coverage on Google News (including this article). He’s historically been pretty contemptuous of the government when it isn’t doing exactly what he wants it to do. That includes a long-running spat with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a showdown with health authorities in California over whether Tesla workers were “essential” during the pandemic, and the concerns over Autopilot raised by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). While the NTSB doesn’t have the kind of regulatory authority necessary to interfere with Tesla’s plans to roll out upgraded “Full Self-Driving Capability,” the agency has already warned that Tesla needs to address “basic safety issues” before doing so. Its chief, Jennifer Homendy, has called Tesla’s marketing of the feature “misleading and irresponsible.”

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As CNN noted, the SpaceX flight was acknowledged repeatedly by Bill Nelson, who as the Biden-appointed administrator of NASA overseeing the Commercial Crew Program is of course the federal official whose job description most closely entails weighing in on successful private missions to orbit.

On Saturday, Nelson tweeted, “Congratulations #Inspiration4! With today’s splashdown, you’ve helped demonstrate that low-Earth orbit is open for business.” Nelson had also previously commented on the day of the Inspiration4 launch, tweeting “Low-Earth orbit is now more accessible for more people to experience the wonders of space. We look forward to the future—one where NASA is one of many customers in the commercial space market. Onward & upward.”

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SpaceX’s Surprisingly Secretive Inspiration4 Mission Is a Major Letdown

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A short video of the Dragon Cupola—a glass dome from which the crew can view their surroundings—was also released on Thursday, and today we were blessed with four photos showing the crew inside the Crew Dragon.

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There’s also a tweet from Inspiration4 confirming that the crew answered questions from patients at St. Jude, but no video or transcript of the session was provided. The crew released its in-orbit Spotify playlist and also spoke to Musk, which good for them, but who the hell cares. Oh, we’ve also learned that Isaacman did some sports betting from space and that he won a bit of money, which he will donate to charity. Gotta say, sports betting was not quite what I was expecting from this mission, and it’s sad to think this is among the few morsels of information we’ve been given.

After reaching out to both SpaceX and Inspiration4 for more information, a PR firm representing the mission responded: “We won’t be capturing live, but will continue to share assets and updates as they are sent down to us,” and that I should just follow updates on the Inspiration4 website. On that last point, the news section of the Inspiration4 website hasn’t been updated since the launch on Wednesday.

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Looking around the web, it’s clear that other publications are experiencing similar frustrations.

“Not much information has been released since launch about the activities of the crew, who are the subject of an exclusive Netflix documentary,” writes the BBC. On the chat with Musk, Spaceflight Now’s William Harwood said there was “no immediate word on what they talked about or any details about the progress of the historic mission.” To which he added: “Unlike NASA space flights, in which space-to-ground communications between astronauts and flight controllers are carried out in the open, there has been no public radio traffic with the Inspiration4 crew and no downlinked photographs or video since reaching orbit Wednesday after launch from the Kennedy Space Center.” Harwood’s article came out before the release of the four new pics, but his point still stands.

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And it’s not as if there’s nothing to cover. The crew isn’t just floating around the capsule—they’re supposedly eating cold pizza, playing the ukulele, taking in spectacular views of Earth and space, and performing a trove of health-related science experiments. I was very much hoping to watch all of this, and while it was happening.

Alas, we come to the likely reason for the silent treatment: the aforementioned Netflix docuseries. The crew is spending a good portion of its time in space collecting video for the fifth and final episode of the series, which probably explains why we’re seeing so little. They’ve gotta keep all the good stuff under wraps, put it through the production wringer, and then package it all up for the public at a future date—that date being September 30. What makes this particularly frustrating is that Netflix promised to cover the mission in “near real-time,” and I don’t believe that’s happening.

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Some of you may quibble, saying I need to be patient and that I’ll get to see all the good stuff in due time. But for me, it’s not the same thing. I was hoping to connect with this interesting crew as the mission was happening, but instead we’re being blacked out. And that sucks.

Update: SpaceX tweeted this afternoon that the crew will provide a live update this evening, which is a welcome development.

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More: Smoke detector triggers alarm in Russian segment of the International Space Station.

SpaceX’s All-Civilian Inspiration4 Mission Is Now in Orbit: Here’s What Happens Next

The crew is now in space, but there’s no time to waste. With just three days available before their scheduled return to Earth, the quartet will embark on a full slate of activities, as virtually every minute of their time aboard the Resilience Crew Dragon is accounted for.

Sadly, SpaceX will not be providing continuous coverage of the Inspiration4 mission. But as mission manager Scott “Kidd” Poteet told Spaceflight Now, we can expect some live events in the coming days, including live chats with patients and staff at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and some undisclosed “surprises.” The team will also perform health-related experiments and capture video for a TIME Studios documentary that’s currently running on Netflix. The first four episodes of the documentary are already streaming, with the fifth and final episode premiering on September 30.

Inspiration4 and SpaceX have not immediately responded to our request for more information about the mission, such as an itinerary or upcoming press conferences. That said, there are several places online where you can track what’s happening.

The Inspiration4 website is being updated regularly, and you can track the mission on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. St. Jude has a YouTube channel that’s also worth following (Inspiration4 aims to raise $200 million for the hospital, where Arceneaux, a pediatric cancer survivor, works as a physician assistant). To be extra thorough, be sure to follow SpaceX on Twitter, and the boss himself, Elon Musk. The SpaceX launch page has a neat feature showing the capsule’s current position in space.

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The modified Crew Dragon features a large, three-layer plexiglass dome known as the Dragon Cupola. A tweet from SpaceX provides an image of the window, giving us an idea of what the astronauts will be seeing. Given the limited space in Resilience, this same area will serve double duty as the toilet—albeit a toilet with an astronomical view. A curtain will allow for privacy when the astronauts perform their business up there.

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When not drooling at Earth or space pooping, the crew can spend some time on personal activities. For Proctor, a geology teacher with a lifelong ambition of becoming an astronaut, that will involve painting in watercolor and writing poetry. Sembroski, a U.S. Air Force veteran and data engineer, plans to play his ukulele and serenade the crew (the old Alien tagline, “In space no one can hear you scream,” may suddenly become very pertinent). The crew will also eat together, including special comfort foods brought for each member. Proctor, for example, is looking forward to some cold pizza.

There is some serious business to be done, however. The crew will perform a number of health-related experiments, such as tracking ECG activity, running blood tests, and performing balance and perception tests. As for piloting duties, the crew won’t have to worry about that, as the Crew Dragon operates autonomously. That said, the crew could step in and execute emergency commands should the situation require.

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After three days of this, the Crew Dragon will perform a re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere and splash down off the coast of Florida. The soft landing is scheduled for around 7:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, September 18.

The Inspiration4 mission has already led to some interesting records and milestones. This is SpaceX’s fourth crewed Crew Dragon mission but the first with no NASA astronauts onboard. Inspiration4 is the first mission since the 2009 STS-125 Space Shuttle mission in which astronauts have gone into orbit but didn’t dock with the ISS. Circling 363.5 miles (585 km) above Earth, this is the farthest that astronauts have been since those Shuttle missions to repair Hubble. This is also a distance record for Crew Dragon.

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With yesterday’s launch, the human population of low Earth orbit is now 14—and that’s a record. The previous record, 13, happened in 2009, when the Space Shuttle Endeavor docked to the ISS. The 14 astronauts currently in space include three Chinese astronauts aboard the new Tiangong space station, the seven members of ISS Expedition 65, and the four Inspiration4 crew members.

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly described Hayley Arceneaux as a nurse assistant.

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How to Watch SpaceX’s Inspiration4 Launch—the First All-Civilian Mission to Earth Orbit

There’s a 70% chance that weather conditions will be favorable for today’s launch. Should it be scrubbed for whatever reason, SpaceX will try again tomorrow (Thursday, September 16) at the same time.

A Netflix-produced warm-up show will begin at 7:00 p.m. EDT (11:00 p.m. UTC). The live YouTube special is being hosted by Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown and journalist Soledad O’Brien, and it’ll feature a host of celebrity appearances. The ongoing Netflix series Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space has been following the training of the crew, with episodes one through four already streaming. The fifth and final installment will premiere in late September.

Isaacman, the billionaire founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, will command the mission, while Proctor, a geoscience teacher, will serve as pilot. Arceneaux, a pediatric cancer survivor, will be the first person to go to space with a prosthetic body part and the youngest American to orbit Earth. Sembroski is an Air Force veteran and aerospace engineer. Operation of the Crew Dragon is autonomous, so the crew won’t be expected to do any actual piloting.

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SpaceX is aiming to deliver the Crew Dragon to an altitude of 357 miles (575 km), which is higher than both the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station. The crew will view Earth from the Dragon Cupola—the “largest contiguous space window ever flown,” according to SpaceX. The Elon Musk-led company says the three-layer observation dome was “extensively tested and qualified for flight” and it replaces the mechanism used by Crew Dragon for docking to the ISS.

Inspiration4 crewmember Jared Isaacman peering out from the Dragon Cupola.

Inspiration4 crewmember Jared Isaacman peering out from the Dragon Cupola.
Image: Inspiration4/SpaceX

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In addition to looking out the window and experiencing weightlessness, the crew will perform a number of health-related scientific experiments. Once the three-day trip to space is over, the Crew Dragon will perform a re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere and make a parachute-assisted splashdown at one of several possible locations along Florida’s east coast.

The Inspiration4 crew: Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman, and Hayley Arceneaux.

The Inspiration4 crew: Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman, and Hayley Arceneaux.
Image: Inspiration4/SpaceX

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A major goal of the Inspiration4 mission is to raise $200 million for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and that’s undeniably a great cause. For SpaceX, however, the mission represents its first foray into space tourism, in which some seriously big money is up for grabs. Isaacman paid an undisclosed amount for all four seats (Arceneaux was handpicked by Isaacman, and both Proctor and Sembroski won contests to take part). SpaceX will reportedly charge $50 million per seat for future private missions.

I’m very much looking forward to following today’s scheduled launch and the events of the coming three days, but at no point will I kid myself into believing the naive narrative that’s floating around this mission—that trips to space will soon be available to the rest of us.

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