Inspiration4: Autonomy of SpaceX craft discussed by expert

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Weather permitting, SpaceX’s Inspiration4 crew will blast off from Florida in the wee morning hours of Thursday. The launch will be broadcast live online by SpaceX and the streaming giant Netflix. For the very first time in spaceflight history, a crew of amateur astronauts will fly into orbit without any prior formal astronaut training.

The Inspiration4 crew will fly aboard SpaceX’s futuristic Dragon capsule, which is fully autonomous.

The launch will complete a summer of spaceflight firsts, following hot on the heels of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin launching on suborbital flights in July.

SpaceX, however, has shifted into fifth gear for Inspiration4 and the mission will soar considerably higher than Virgin Galactic or Blue Origin – higher even than the International Space Station (ISS).

The Inspiration4 crew will spend three days in orbit, circling the planet at breakneck speeds of five miles per second.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/3pv01sSq44w

How to watch the SpaceX Inspiration4 launch today:

Courtesy of SpaceX, you can watch the mission here on Express.co.uk.

Simply tune into the embedded video player above just before the mission begins.

SpaceX’s launch window opens at 1.02am BST (8.02pm EDT) on Thursday or 8.05pm EDT on Wednesday.

And the SpaceX stream will begin at about 8.45pm BST (3.45pm EDT).

The mission is being led by Jared Isaacman, 38, a billionaire and pilot who has helped fund the incredible trip into space.

As part of the mission, the Inspiration4 crew are raising funds for the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee.

Mr Isaacman has personally pledged to donate half of the £146million ($200million) target.

One of the crew members is 29-year-old Hayley Arceneaux, a physician’s assistant who survived bone cancer as a child.

They are joined by US Air Force veteran Chris Sembroski, who won a seat on the Dragon capsule after a friend made a donation to St Jude.

The fourth astronaut-to-be is Dr Sian Proctor, a geoscientist at South Mountain Community College in Pheonix, Arizona.

Dr Proctor has previously attempted to join NASA’s astronaut programme in 2009 but was eliminated in the final round of candidates.

She said: “I am thrilled to be part of the historic Inspiration4 crew and to represent the Prosperity seat.

“Going to space has always been a dream of mine, and being able to inspire the world through art and poetry makes it even more special for me.”

The Inspiration4 launch is an opportunity of a lifetime for the four astronauts but it also marks a revolutionary milestone for the budding space tourism industry.

According to Wendy Whitman Cobb at the US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, companies like SpaceX are making it increasingly likely for the public to fly into space.

She said: “Because none of the four participants has any prior formal astronaut training, the flight has been called the first ‘all civilian’ space mission.

“While the rocket and crew capsule are both fully automated – no one on board will need to control any part of the launch or landing – the four members still needed to go through much more training than the people on the suborbital flights.

“In less than six months, the crew has undergone hours of simulator training, lessons in flying a jet aircraft and spent time in a centrifuge to prepare them for the G-forces of launch.”

Private astronauts have previously flown to space, including NASA administrator Bill Nelson who flew on the Space Shuttle while a member of Congress in 1986.

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