SpaceX and Isaacman will be partners in a series of Dragon and Starship flights with the crew

WASHINGTON – The billionaire who paid for and led Crew Dragon’s first private mission last year announced a program of additional missions on February 14, culminating in the first crew flight on Starship SpaceX.

Jared Isaacman, who funded and flew the Inspiration4 Crew Dragon mission last September, said he was launching a Polaris program to gain experience in human spaceflight in collaboration with SpaceX to help the company achieve its goals of sending humans to the moon and Mars.

“Polaris is a series of groundbreaking Dragon space missions that will focus on rapidly expanding human learning capabilities,” Isaacman told reporters. “This program has been purposefully designed to expand the capabilities of long-range human spaceflight and guide us to the ultimate goal – to facilitate the study of Mars.”

The first mission called Polaris Dawn will fly no earlier than the fourth quarter of 2022. The mission will last up to five days. will climb to greater heights than previous Crew Dragon missions, including Isaacman’s Inspiration4 mission, which ran 585 kilometers. “We are trying to fly to the highest orbit of the Earth we have ever flown” for a mission with a crew, he said. The Twins 11 in 1966 reached a climax of about 1,375 kilometers.

The flight will also include extraterrestrial activity (EVA) or spacewalk, the first in a commercial mission, using a modified version of the pressure suit worn by Crew Dragon astronauts. “The development of this costume and the implementation of EVA will be important steps towards a large-scale design of spacesuits for future long-term missions,” he said.

Since there is no gateway on the Crew Dragon spacecraft, all four crew members will have to put on suits to depressurize the cockpit for space travel. Isaacman and others related to Polaris, gave a few additional details about costume design or plans to go into outer space during the call.

Unlike Inspiration4, which flew non-professional astronauts, partially selected as a result of competitions, Isaacman said he had already chosen a crew for Polaris Dawn. He will again lead the mission, and as a pilot will be Scott “Kid” Potit, a retired Air Force pilot who was one of Inspiration4’s ground directors. Two SpaceX employees, Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon, will be flying as mission specialists. Manon is married to Anila Menan, a former SpaceX flight surgeon chosen by NASA in December as part of the latest class of astronauts.

“The Polaris Dawn mission has many important challenges, so in partnership with SpaceX we have selected a team of experts who know each other well from our work on Inspiration4 and have a foundation of trust on which we can build,” Isaacman said.

During an hour-long conversation with the media, Isaacman and other Polaris Dawn crew members declined to elaborate on many aspects of the mission, from the proposed spacewalk to plans for the future, which include a second, indicative Crew Dragon mission followed by an orbital flight to Starship. this will be the first launch of this car that transports people.

The lack of details also extended to funding. “I’m not going to comment on that,” Isaacman said when asked about the price of Polaris, except that the series of Polaris missions is “fully funded” with the uncertain support of SpaceX. “It’s a contribution from both SpaceX and me to the important goals we want to achieve with Polaris.”

Isaacman used Inspiration4 as a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. It raised more than $ 240 million, including $ 100 million from Isaacman himself and $ 50 million from Ilona Mask at the end of the mission. Isaacman said Polaris would also raise “funds and awareness” for St. Jude, but as part of a “global health initiative,” details of which he did not disclose other than using the Starlink SpaceX satellite network for telemedicine. According to him, Polaris Dawn plans to use Starlink laser satellite channels for communication.

The timing of future Polaris missions is also uncertain, in part due to the ongoing development of Starship. The spacecraft has not yet made its first orbital flight attempt, and the Federal Aviation Administration announced Feb. 14 that it is postponing the deadline for completing the environmental review required for a license to launch Starship from Feb. 28 to March 28.

This first manned orbital flight will only take place after numerous unmanned launches, including for the constellation SpaceX Starlink. “Long before we ever get to Starship after the Polaris program, there will be many Starlink missions and, I’m sure, other missions with cargo and payload,” Isaacman said.

He added that he is interested in managing this first Starship mission with a crew. “Let’s bring Polaris Dawn right, and then we’ll think about the next mission and, eventually, someday we’ll see a starship fly with people on board.” SpaceX and Isaacman will be partners in a series of Dragon and Starship flights with the crew

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