SpaceX Inspiration4 historic all-civilian launch may happen later this year

SpaceX has announced that it may launch its Inspiration4 mission in the last quarter of this year, setting a new space milestone with its all-civilian crew. Shift4 Payments CEO Jared Isaacman will serve as the mission commander, and he's donated three of the Inspiration4 seats for other civilians to join him.

The Inspiration4 mission will be a multi-day journey, according to SpaceX, which announced the news on February 1. The spacecraft will orbit our planet every 90 minutes, following a 'customized flight path,' with SpaceX mission control monitoring the trip through space. The company plans a soft water landing near Florida when the trip is complete.

The civilians selected to join Isaacman on the historic launch will be trained by SpaceX on everything from orbital mechanics to the launch vehicle and crew capsule. Both partial and full mission simulations will be included as part of the training, SpaceX says, noting there will be 'other forms of stress testing,' as well.

According to the company, the Inspiration4 mission will happen 'no earlier than' Q4 2021, meaning it may not end up taking place this year — though the possibility remains. The planned launch will take place in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A.

On the Inspiration4 mission website, SpaceX explains that the launch is intended to raise money and awareness for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Two of the seats are up for grabs — they're called 'Generosity' and 'Prosperity.' The third seat is 'reserved for a St. Jude ambassador with direct ties to the mission.'