Astronauts had not launched from American soil in nearly a decade until SpaceX returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States in 2020. The company has already launched three crewed missions to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Today, July 31, SpaceX shared that they are actively preparing to liftoff more crews aboard upcoming missions. “More than 20 astronauts from around the world are currently going through SpaceX human spaceflight training,” the company said. “Crew-3 astronauts visited NASA Kennedy this week for emergency preparedness training,” they shared via Twitter. Crew-3 will be SpaceX’s fourth crewed flight out of six for NASA to ISS. The astronauts that will liftoff aboard Crew Dragon during the Crew-3 mission are: NASA astronauts Kayla Barron, Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer. They are currently scheduled to liftoff on October 23rd, atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft from historic Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida [date is subject to change].
More than 20 astronauts from around the world are currently going through SpaceX human spaceflight training— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 31, 2021
Before Crew-3 lifts off, SpaceX will launch the first all-civilian crew to space! The company is already offering space tours and has civilian customers lined up to live an adventure of a lifetime. “The Inspiration4 crew was also in Florida this week for training ahead of their flight in September,” SpaceX shared on Saturday. The Inspiration4 crew are a group of four inspiring individuals who are raising awareness and fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Shift4Payments founder Jared Isaacman funded the space tour and decided to make his voyage to orbit Earth an inspiring message for humanity. He invited pediatric cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux. She was treated at St. Jude and now works in the hospitals oncology unit as a physician assistant. Arceneaux and Isaacman will be joined by Dr. Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski, who won a seat aboard Crew Dragon for participating in contests that raised funds for St. Jude. They are scheduled to liftoff no earlier than September 15 atop a flight-proven Falcon 9 from Launch Pad 39A. Once in orbit, the civilian crew will enjoy beautiful views of Earth from a new 360-view dome window that SpaceX will add to a previously-flown Crew Dragon spacecraft. "What a full week for Inspiration4! We signed our booster, saw our🐉, LC-39A safety training, egress & water survival, two orbits around🌎 at Disney Epcot🍻, board meetings, family time. Next week lots of sims- 30 hour one!, earnings release, fighter jets w/crew. Getting close🚀," Isaacman shared in a Twitter post. The Falcon 9 rocket that will launch Inspiration4 to orbit is previously-flown, so it is filled with scorch marks from burning in Earth’s atmosphere upon reentry, the crew was able to draw their name through the tar-like burns.
What a full week for @inspiration4x! We signed our booster, saw our🐉, LC-39A safety training, egress & water survival, two orbits around🌎 at Disney Epcot🍻, board meetings, family time. Next week lots of sims- 30 hour one!, earnings release, fighter jets w/crew. Getting close🚀— Jared Isaacman (@rookisaacman) July 31, 2021
SpaceX did not elaborate on who else is training to fly to space. All that is known is that besides training NASA astronauts for rotational flights to ISS, SpaceX also has more civilian space flights lined up. The company signed a deal with Axiom Space to launch four crewed missions to the Space Station. The Crew Dragon spacecraft can carry four to seven passengers per mission. Earlier this year, Axiom announced that the passengers that will launch aboard Crew Dragon during the first AX-1 mission are “former NASA astronaut and Axiom vice president Michael López-Alegría as commander; American entrepreneur and non-profit activist investor Larry Connor as pilot; Canadian investor and philanthropist Mark Pathy; and impact investor and philanthropist Eytan Stibbe of Israel,” Axiom stated in January.
Training continues as @CommanderMLA and Larry Connor – commander and pilot of Axiom Mission 1, the first ever private crew to visit the International Space Station – become familiar with their ride. pic.twitter.com/S7H6Mk0Vkn— Axiom Space (@Axiom_Space) June 22, 2021
Axiom also set up three more civilian missions, one will launch Hollywood actor Tom Cruise to the Space Station. NASA and SpaceX are collaborating with Axiom so that the actor can film the first movie in space. He will record scenes for an undisclosed movie during the space tour. It is unknown when Cruise will launch to orbit nor if he already started training, all that is known is that the film will be produced by Universal Pictures and will be directed by Doug Liman, who will also launch to space with him. Former NASA astronaut López-Alegría will also be commander during this mission. “NASA is excited to work with Tom Cruise on a film aboard the Space Station! We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make NASA’s ambitious plans a reality,” former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in May 2020.
Should be a lot of fun!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 5, 2020
SpaceX also signed a contract with Space Adventures for a 4 person crew flight. The company has not released more details about who will fly the mission. During the Space Adventures mission, Crew Dragon will not head to ISS, it will remain in orbit cruising around Earth for around 5 days at an altitude of about 500 miles to 850 miles above Earth, that is two to three times the 250-mile height of the space station – the highest altitude that any private citizen in history has ever been to! “This will provide up to four individuals with the opportunity to break the world altitude record for private citizen spaceflight and see planet Earth the way no one has since the Gemini program,” Space Adventures representatives wrote in a press release. In reference to the record 850-mile-high orbit achieved by Gemini XI’s astronauts Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon in 1966. They experienced an incredible view of Earth at that altitude.
Featured Images Source: SpaceX / Inspiration4 / Axiom / NASA
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.