“We’ve undertaken one of our largest fundraising efforts, acknowledging the responsibility we bear here on Earth,” Isaacson said at a press conference Tuesday.
For Walkowicz, the heavy social media element of the selection process, while understandable from a SpaceX perspective, could be problematic. “We are all very familiar with the ways in which social media reinforces existing biases, whereby people adhere to gender and racial norms,” they say.
And while government astronauts aren’t the only travelers in space anymore, private spaceflight tickets today seem to be reserved for the wealthy or for friends who count on their generosity, Bem says: “Space is still a very privileged place; it’s just the elite type of person that changes.”
However, although this spaceflight is often described as “all civilian,” most of the participants are not all that different from astronauts who have undergone the traditional NASA process. Catherine Denning, an anthropologist and space ethics researcher at York University in Toronto, in an email to WIRED.
Arcenaux has less experience than the others, but they’ve all been training for the mission since March. “It’s a very intense training program,” says Scott “Kid” Petit, who with Ericsson runs the Inspiration4 mission. “They went through hours upon hours of simulation training, including Dragon capsule operations. It included combat aircraft training, including experimenting with G forces, and climbing Mount Rainier. It was a challenging environment and conditions, and they did nothing but succeed.”
The Arcenaux prosthesis is no longer the barrier it may have once been to spaceflight: this spring, European Space Agency It began recruiting astronauts with physical disabilities for the first time; Some space experts note that prosthetics can also be Useful in zero-c.
For NASA, encouraging a burgeoning space industry has been part of the plan, especially since the shuttle program ended in 2011. NASA invested in commercial crew providers a decade ago — SpaceX and Boeing — anticipating that companies would be able to get astronauts to the space station. Others are supposed to be launched into space as well. In May 2020, SpaceX Crew Dragon Two NASA astronauts transferred to the International Space Station, And brought them home again, In a historical precedent for public and private missions.
Now in 2021, four different special orbital missions are scheduled over the next year or so, including those by SpaceX and Axiom Space, the Houston-based space infrastructure company, to the space station. “This is why we do the Commercial Crew Program, the ability to expand access to space for others and nurture the beginnings of a new industry,” says Alexander MacDonald, NASA’s chief economist. “We now hope to enter the maturity stage for commercial human spaceflight.”
Benji Reed, SpaceX’s head of human spaceflight, sees this first phase of space travel becoming more and more common. “The long-term vision is that spaceflight will become airline-like. Buy tickets and go,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday. While Inspiration4 passengers underwent training similar to that of astronauts, in the future, he said, “we will want to scale back the training while ensuring safety.”
During their time in orbit, the crew of the Inspiration4 will be launched from gravity, and they will have a life-changing experience watching our little world from far above. Unlike NASA astronauts, they will have their own personal goals and interests to pursue while in orbit. In the movie based on the novel by Carl Sagan Call, the hero, played by Jodie Foster, stares at the alien world for the first time and says in awe:They should have sent a poet. Referring to Proctor, Mungo said, “Now they will.”
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