LIVE countdown to liftoff: SpaceX getting ready to launch world’s first all-civilian mission into orbit

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — SpaceX is looking to make history with a targeted Wednesday night launch of the world’s first all-civilian mission into orbit from Florida’s Space Coast.

The Inspiration4 mission will send a four-person crew into orbit in the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft atop the reusable Falcon 9 rocket. The mission will launch from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

A five-hour launch window for the mission opens at 8:02 p.m. ET Wednesday. The window is so large because the crew is being sent into orbit, not to the International Space Station. They will travel 350 miles above Earth’s surface, about 100 miles higher than the International Space Station.

“Now this is significant and historic because it’s going to be the highest that any humans have gone to orbit since the Hubble servicing missions,” SpaceX Director of Human Spaceflight Benji Reed said.

(Photo provided by SpaceX)

The crew will spend three days in orbit taking part in research experiments on human health and performance. The hope is the findings of the research will be applied to future spaceflights, as well as to human health on Earth.

Inspiration4’s primary mission is to give back and is named in recognition of the crew’s mission to inspire support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They’re hoping to raise $200 million for St. Jude during the three-day mission.

Each of the four members of the crew were selected to represent the mission pillars of prosperity, generosity, hope and leadership.

The Inspiration4 crew members and the pillars they represent are:

Leadership: 38-year-old Jared Isaacman – Shift4 Payments founder and CEO

Hope: 29-year-old Hayley Arceneaux – physician assistant and pediatric cancer survivor

Generosity: 41-year-old Chris Sembroski – U.S. Air Force veteran and aerospace industry employee for Lockheed Martin

Prosperity: 51-year-old Dr. Sian Proctor – entrepreneur, educator, trained pilot and active voice in space exploration community

Jared Isaacman, Chris Sembroski, Dr. Sian Proctor, Haley Arceneaux (Photo provided by SpaceX)

SpaceX had all four crew members go through commercial astronaut training on the Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft. The crew was trained in orbital mechanics, microgravity, zero gravity and other stress testing as well as emergency preparedness and spacesuit training.

As of 7:45 p.m. ET, SpaceX reports all systems are go for liftoff. The 45th Weather Squadron of the United States Space Force says weather is 90% favorable for Wednesday’s launch window.

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