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SpaceX Set To Launch First All-Civilian Crew Into Space Wednesday

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Hawthorne-based SpaceX Wednesday evening will seek to launch the first ever non-professional astronaut crew into space.

The launch of the four all-civilian crewmembers aboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule, dubbed Inspiration4, will take place just after 5 p.m. Pacific time from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon is seen sitting on launch Pad 39A at NASA Kennedy Space Center as it is prepared for the first completely private mission to fly into orbit in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sept. 15, 2021. (Getty Images)

The trip is hoping to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, with half of that amount coming personally from the trip’s commander, 37-year-old Shift4 Payments CEO Jared Isaacman, according to SpaceX.

Joining Isaacman on the voyage is Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St. Jude and pediatric cancer survivor, Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer, and Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist and trained pilot.

Proctor will be piloting the spacecraft, the first Black woman ever to do so.

“There have been three Black female astronauts that have made it into space, and knowing that I’m going to be the fourth means that I have this opportunity to not only accomplish my dream, but also inspire,” Proctor told reporters.

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The crew will spend three days in space before the Dragon capsule splashes down at one of several possible landing sites off the Florida coastline.

Although none of the crew members are professional astronauts, all of them underwent rigorous astronaut training at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne. The sessions included G-force training on Mig-29, AlphaJets and LC-39 aircraft.

Sembroski, 42, and Proctor, 51, both earned their seats on the flight through contests.

Recent well-publicized flights involving billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson reached only lower altitudes, no higher than about 65 miles. Inspiration4 is expected to soar to 575 kilometers, or roughly 357 miles.

The crew will also conduct some scientific work on the trip, “designed to advance human health on Earth and during future long-duration spaceflights,” SpaceX said.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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