SpaceX to launch all-civilian crew into orbit for 3 days

WASHINGTON: SpaceX is due to send into orbit today a crew made up of complete novices, without a professional astronaut on board the space capsule.

Four peoplewill go on the three-day mission as Mr Elon Musk's company enters the space tourism fray.

The SpaceX flight, Inspiration4, has been chartered by US billionaire Jared Isaacman, the 38-year-old founder and chief executive of payment processing company Shift4 Payment. He is also a seasoned pilot.

The exact price he paid SpaceX has not been disclosed. The mission itself is far more ambitious in scope than the few weightless minutes Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin customers can buy.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon will be flying farther than the orbit of the International Space Station.

In addition to Mr Isaacman, who is the mission commander, three non-public figures were selected. Each crew member was picked to represent a pillar of the mission.

The youngest, Ms Hayley Arceneaux, 29, is a childhood bone cancer survivor, who represents "hope." She will become the first person with a prosthetic to go to space.

She works as a physician assistant in Memphis, Tennessee, for St Jude's hospital, the charitable beneficiary of Inspiration4.

Mr Chris Sembroski, 42, who works in the aviation industry and is a US Air Force veteran, secured the seat of "generosity".

The last seat represents "prosperity" and was offered to Ms Sian Proctor, a 51-year-old earth science professor, who, in 2009, narrowly missed out on becoming an astronaut. She will be only the fourth black woman to go to space.

The crew's training has lasted months and has included experiencing high G-force on a centrifuge. The flight itself will be fully autonomous. - AFP