SpaceX rocket with all-civilian crew blasts into Earths orbit in mission first

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SpaceX has launched its ground-breaking Inspiration4 mission, which is set to carry four people higher than any human has been for 25 years.

Elon Musk's company has also broken another record, sending the first full crew of non-professional astronauts into space on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft.

The mission, which was first announced in February, launched at just after 1am this morning from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

The craft will reach an altitude of 575km (357mi) and stay there for three days before returning home. It will be the highest manned mission since 1997, when Space Shuttle Discovery re-boosted the orbit of Hubble to reach 620km (385mi).

Inspiration4 is also the creation of 38-year-old billionaire entrepreneur and founder of Shift4 Payments Jared Isaacman.

He said: "This is the first step toward a world where everyday people can go and venture among the stars."

Isaacman bought the flight from Musk's company for an undisclosed fee hoping to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a treatment and research facility specialising in catastrophic diseases in children.

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Inspiration4 aims to raise $200 million (£144.4 million). Isaacman has pledged $100 million (£72.2 million) and $30 million (£21.66 million) has already been generated from donations.

The four-man crew, which includes Isaacman, was put together by the billionaire and involves a range of different people.

"From a medical officer perspective, I’m so excited about the medical research that we’re going to be doing," explained 29-year-old Hayley Arceneaux, the mission's medical officer, before today's launch.

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Arceneaux is a survivor of childhood cancer and now a physician assistant at St. Jude Hospital.

The pilot is 51-year-old Sian Proctor, a geoscientist and science communication specialist who won a competition set up by Isaacman to be part of the launch. Her father worked for NASA during the Apollo missions, and in 2009 she narrowly missed out on NASA's astronaut selection.

She said: "It’s really special for me to hold that title [of pilot] because I’m going to be the first Black female pilot of a spacecraft."

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Chris Sembroski, a 42-year-old Air Force veteran, is the final member. He was selected from 72,000 other entries after donating to the St. Jude Hospital fundraiser.

"I’ve been just thinking about how lucky I am to be a part of this crew, to be a part of this mission. From watching a Super Bowl commercial and making a donation, to not winning that and then having my friend win it, and then through his generosity give that spot to me," Sembroski said.

All four crew members spent the last six months together, training for this morning's historic moment. This preparation has included "tearing up the skies in some fighter jets", said Isaacman, who reckons the actual mission will be far less dangerous.

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  • Elon Musk
  • Spacex
  • Space
  • Spaced Out

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