SpaceX launched the first fully civilian crew on Wednesday evening. The 8:02 p.m. liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida is a major step into the future of commercial space travel.

“Few have come before, and many are about to follow,” billionaire Jared Isaacman said from inside the spacecraft.

The 38-year-old founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments (FOUR) funded the mission called Inspiration4. The trip benefits St Jude Hospital.

None of the four crew members on board are professional astronauts. All have undergone rigorous commercial astronaut training for the mission. They will spend the next three days orbiting Earth aboard the SpaceX-developed Dragon spacecraft by Elon Musk.

The crew members include Isaacman, who is an accomplished pilot. He serves as a commander.

Hayley Arceneaux, a 29-year-old medical assistant at St. Jude Hospital is the youngest American to be put into orbit. She is the chief physician on the capsule.

Dr Sian Proctor is a 51-year-old geoscientist and STEM educator. She is the travel pilot and the fourth African-American woman to travel in space.

Christopher Sembroski, 42, works in the aerospace industry. He serves as a mission specialist during the trip.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Inspiration4 crew is launched from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. On September 15, 2021. – The Inspiration4 mission, the first to send a fully civilian crew into orbit , will venture deeper into space than the International Space Station. (Photo by Chandan KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images)

The capsule will orbit approximately 575 kilometers from Earth. The altitude is further away than the International Space Station. The crew will spend time conducting experiments related to human physiology in microgravity.

“Space is a unique environment and there are opportunities to use the microgravity environment to find and develop new treatments and cures for various diseases and conditions,” said the founder of Space advisers and author of Space is Open for BusinessRobert Jacobson told Yahoo Finance.

“Congratulations to Elon Musk for his openness to piloting Inspiration4. His approval of this mission means he is confident in the safety and reliability of the vehicle, its teams and the rest of the necessary infrastructure,” he said. -he adds.

Isaacman is the third billionaire to pay for space travel in recent months, and the first to fund a private trip to orbit in a SpaceX vehicle.

Amazon (AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic (SPCE) each took part in historic suborbital missions over the summer.

“Of the three companies now trying to showcase their space tourism capabilities, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, SpaceX is by far the most diverse,” ProcureAM CEO Andrew Chanin told Yahoo Finance Live on Wednesday. .

Chanin points out that SpaceX has many different sources of revenue and existing government contracts.

“They are doing a lot of different things now and already have plans to do them in the future,” Chanin said. “As space tourism is not a major source of income for this business, it may not be the end of the world.”

At the end of the multi-day trip, Dragon will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere for a freshwater landing off the coast of Florida.

Ines is a market reporter who covers stocks on the New York Stock Exchange floor. Follow her on Twitter at @ines_ferre

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