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Friday, March 31, 2023

Billionaire Plans to Return to Orbit in Coming SpaceX Shuttle Launch

Last year, this billionaire launched his own SpaceX mission, aiming for a higher orbit and the opportunity to participate in a spacewalk.

Jared Isaacman, a tech entrepreneur, revealed on Monday that he and two SpaceX engineers, as well as a veteran Air Force fighter pilot, will launch another private spaceflight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

It’s the first of three planned missions to test new technology, including still-in-development spacewalking suits, before the maiden launch with humans of SpaceX’s new Starship, which is aimed towards moon and Mars travel.

Isaacman paid an unknown sum for a three-day voyage for himself and three passengers in September, which was SpaceX’s first space tourism flight. Isaacman told reporters on Monday that he and the corporation are splitting the costs of the forthcoming flight, but he didn’t specify.

The four are expected to launch in November on a Falcon rocket, according to plans. They’ll orbit the Earth for up to five days, flying higher than any previous Dragon capsule or NASA shuttle – the September voyage reached a height of about 360 miles (585 kilometers), considerably higher than the International Space Station.

Isaacman wouldn’t say how high his next capsule would go, but claimed it will be similar to NASA’s two-astronaut Gemini missions in the mid-1960s. Outside of the Apollo moonshots, Gemini 11 retains the record for the highest astronaut mission: 853 miles (1,373 kilometers).

The whole Dragon capsule, like the Gemini capsules, will be depressurized for the spacewalk, with each crew member wearing pressurized suits. Isaacman would not say who or how many would venture outside the capsule while tethered.

“We have a lot to learn, including improved suit designs, if we are to have a more permanent presence on the moon and perhaps construct a colony on Mars,” he added.

They’ll also utilize SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites to test connectivity from space.

Musk unveiled the Starship, the world’s highest and most powerful rocket, last week. Before launching it empty from Texas on its maiden orbital test trip, he needs to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA announced Monday that it will not complete its environmental study of the Boca Chica launch and landing location in Texas’ southern point until the end of March.

Isaacman stated that he would like to be a part of the second spaceflight in this program, which is named after the triple-star system Polaris, as well as the first Starship crew.

“Let’s get Polaris Dawn right first,” he continued, “and then we’ll consider about the next mission.”

SpaceX staffers Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon, whose husband was selected by NASA as an astronaut in December, and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel Scott Poteet were among Isaacman’s three passengers on his September journey. Poteet also worked for Isaacman’s Shift4 Payments company and Draken International, Isaacman’s high-performance aircraft firm.

SpaceX intends several Starship missions before landing NASA humans on the moon by 2025, utilizing the sleek, steel, bullet-shaped rocketship.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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