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SpaceX launches first all-civilian crew into space

11:21 PM Sep 16, 2021 | FPJ News Service

SpaceX's first all-civilian crew streaked into space on Wednesday night on a three-day mission to orbit the Earth in a capsule the size of a camper van.

Isaacman, the commander of the mission, is funding the trip in a private deal with SpaceX. The other three civilians were selected via a competition launched in February. This is the first time a spacecraft is circling Earth with an all-amateur crew and no professional astronauts.

The Dragon capsule's two men and two women will be going round and round the planet in an unusually high orbit - 100 miles (160 km) higher than the International Space Station - before splashing down off the Florida coast this weekend. It's SpaceX founder Elon Musk's first entry in the race for space tourism.

Isaacman, 38, made his fortune with a payment-processing company he started in his teens. He's the third billionaire to launch this summer, following the brief space-skimming flights by Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson and Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos in July.

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He has pledged USD 100 million out of his own pocket to a hospital and is seeking another USD 100 million in donations. Arceneaux, a physician assistant, is the youngest American in space and the first person in space with a prosthesis, a titanium rod in her left leg.

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"Someday NASA astronauts will be the exception, not the rule," said Cornell University's Mason Peck, an engineering professor who served as NASA's chief technologist nearly a decade ago.

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