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Elon Musk’s SpaceX to Fly 3 More Missions Financed by...

Newsdeck

SpaceX plans new missions

Elon Musk’s SpaceX to Fly 3 More Missions Financed by Billionaire Jared Isaacman

epaselect epa09600034 A handout picture made available by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shows the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching, with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard, from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, USA, 23 November 2021. DART is the world?s first full-scale planetary defense test, demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection technology. The mission was built and is managed by Johns Hopkins APL for NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office. EPA-EFE/Bill Ingalls / HANDOUT MANDATORY CREDIT: (NASA/Bill Ingalls) HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
By Bloomberg
14 Feb 2022 0

(Bloomberg) -- SpaceX will fly as many as three private missions in coming years, including its first spacewalk outside a Dragon crew vessel, financed in part by the same technology billionaire who flew in space for three days last year with the company.

By Justin Bachman

Word Count: 474
The launches will also include the first people to ride aboard SpaceX’s newest Starship rocket on the third flight, Jared Isaacman said Monday in a statement. The new mission’s first flight aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule, Polaris Dawn, may occur as soon as November and last up to five days, Isaacman said, without giving a time frame for the full series.The 39-year-old founder and chief executive officer of payment processor Shift4 Payments Inc. declined to say how much he and SpaceX are spending for the research trips. He and SpaceX also wouldn’t offer any time schedule for the second or third flights during a briefing call with reporters.

The Polaris flights are designed to test new SpaceX-designed spacesuits, which will allow activities outside the Dragon, and to help the company’s research on suits, an area of space technology where hardware development has lagged, Isaacman said. The company has begun early work on the type of suits that will be required for longer missions on Mars and the moon.

The Polaris crew also will be the first to test laser-based communications for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation, which will be key to the company’s plans for longer missions in deep space. The crew also plan to fly at the highest altitudes for U.S. astronauts since the Apollo lunar missions, more than 400 miles (640 km), and to study radiation exposure from the Van Allen belts within Earth’s magnetic field.

Isaacman plans to use the flights, which he’s calling the Polaris Program, to again help raise money and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., as the company is formally known, is targeting its first Starship orbital test flight this year, with plans for multiple tests and satellite-deployment missions before it’s ready to carry people.

Isaacman will be joined on the missions by two SpaceX engineers — Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon — and a former Air Force test pilot, Scott “Kidd” Poteet. All four worked closely together for the Inspiration4 flight that Isaacman led in September 2021. That effort raised more than $240 million for St. Jude.

Read more: SpaceX private spaceflight splashes down off Florida

Isaacman told the Washington Post on Monday that he paid less than a widely reported $200 million price for the 2021 Crew Dragon flight, although he has declined to reveal the cost.

Isaacman said he plans to remain in his current position with Shift4 and can balance his “day job” with his space activities.

(Updates paragraphs 2-5 with comments from SpaceX call, and adds new last paragraph on CEO role.)
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