For the first time, SpaceX will launch a mission with a crew of civilians — and you can enter to be a part of it. The is scheduled to take off as soon as the end of this year with no professionally trained astronauts onboard.
The civilian crew of four will orbit Earth for several days before returning with soft water landing off the coast of Florida. SpaceX announced the mission Monday and expects the Dragon spacecraft to take off no earlier than the end of 2021. Until then, the crew will receive training on the Falcon 9 launch rocket, Dragon vessel, spacesuit mechanics, emergency preparedness, and more.
One of the four seats is already taken by Jared Isaacman, CEO of publicly-traded payment processing company Shift4 Payments. The businessperson donated the three remaining seats to the general public.
Isaacman isn’t picking the crew completely at random. Instead, applicants can donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for chances to win a seat on the flight. The more donated, the better the chances for selection. For example, if you donate $10, you get 100 entries. Over $50 and you get 500 entries, plus a patch. More prizes for higher donations include a hat, poster, coin, T-shirt, and a Falcon 9 model.
But if you dig deep into the fine print, you don’t have to donate anything for a chance to take off. As long as you fill out an online form you will be entered into the sweepstakes. Donations (or form submissions) are open through the end of February.
Another seat on the mission is reserved for an entrepreneur who starts an online shop using the Shift4 Payments platform. After starting the business, they need to post a video to Twitter with their “entrepreneurial story.” A celebrity panel will judge the video submissions. That winner will be announced in mid-March.
The final seat will go to a “St. Jude ambassador with direct ties to the mission who exemplifies the pillar of Hope as well as the courageous vision upon which St. Jude was founded.”
If you’re chosen, you must be “physically & psychologically fit for training and spaceflight” reads the fine print on the Inspiration4 website.
While this is SpaceX’s first civilian mission, it won’t only be space sightseeing. The crew will conduct microgravity experiments, according to the website.
SpaceX became the first private company to launch NASA astronauts into space last year. Now it’s everyone else’s chance.