Fewer than 600 people have been to space. The rare experience used to guarantee one's entry into the history books, but just like rockets landing on drone ships in the middle of the ocean, space adventures for regular folks — as long as they've got the funds — are about to become a little less historic.
One of the first non-astronauts to travel to the stars will be billionaire Jared Isaacman, who has bought a ticket aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Capsule for an upcoming journey, which will carry him and three others into Earth's orbit. It will be the first trip by any private citizen to outer space.
SpaceX Inspiration4: Launch date and time, mission details
SpaceX, Elon Musk's California-based aerospace company, announced on February 1 that it plans to launch the Inspiration4 mission to bring private citizens to space later this year. Specifically, SpaceX is targeting the fourth quarter of 2021 — so any time between September and December 2021. The New York Times reported October, although Inverse has not independently confirmed that date.
The mission will fly using the Crew Dragon craft, designed primarily to transport NASA astronauts between Earth and the International Space Station. SpaceX has made no bones about its desire to use the spacecraft for private citizens to travel to space, too, and now Isaacman and three lucky fellow passengers will have that privilege.
Inverse reached out to Isaacman for comment, but we did not hear back in time for publication. With that said, here's everything you need to know about Jared Isaacman, and why he is going to space.
29 Reasons is an occasional series from Inverse that offers essential context about something new in the world.
Who is Jared Isaacman?
These are ten fast facts about Isaacman you should know:
- Isaacman is American.
- He grew up in New Jersey.
- He is 37 years old.
- Isaacman is married.
- He has two daughters.
- Isaacman is a tech entrepreneur.
- He founded his first company in 1999 out of his parents' basement.
- He is also a civilian pilot.
- Isaacman is a member of the Black Diamond Jet Team, a civilian aerobatic display team.
- He is worth an estimated $2 billion.
Keep reading for facts 11 through 29!
11. Isaacman may be a billionaire now, but he is actually a high-school dropout.
12. Isaacman founded a retail payment processing company, Shift4 Payments, in 1999 from his parents' basement. Shfit4 Payments is like PayPal, in that it provides a secure payment processing portal.
13. Isaacman's company handles more than $200 billion in payments every year for a third of the country’s restaurants and hotels, including the Hilton, Four Seasons, as well fast-food chains like KFC and Arby’s, according to Forbes.
14. In 2011, he co-founded Draken International, along with Sean Gustafson and Scott Poteet.
15. Quite unlike Shift4 Payments, Dranken provides tactical aircraft and trains pilots for the U.S. military.
16. Isaacman's company owns a fleet of around 70 fighter jets, which is considered the largest private air force.
Isaacman is a pilot himself, and he used to fly as a member of the Black Diamond Jet Team which is a civilian aerobatic display team.
What is Jared Isaacman's connection to SpaceX?
17. Isaacman has a taste for adventure. He once set a speed record while flying around the world in 2009 in order to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which raises money for childhood terminal illnesses.
18. He completed the global flight in 61 hours, 51 minutes and 15 seconds, while the previous record-holder had completed it in about 82 hours.
19. Although Isaacman has never flown to space, he is a self-proclaimed space enthusiast. As a result, the billionaire jumped on the chance to become the first civilian astronaut.
20. Isaacman will ultimately share this title along with the three other passengers on board SpaceX's trip to orbit Earth, but as of yet, these three other passengers remain a mystery.
21. “Inspiration4 is the realization of a lifelong dream and a step toward a future in which anyone can venture out and explore the stars," Isaacman said in a statement to Business Wire.
Who is Jared Isaacman taking to space?
22. Isaacman bought all four seats onboard the Dragon Capsule — the exact price for all four seats is not known. Already, he is making moves on choosing his co-passengers for the two to four-day trip.
The first crew member is an unnamed woman, who also happens to be a healthcare worker at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
The third seat will go to one of the people who have donated to St. Jude's, the names of which will be entered into a random draw, while the fourth seat will be filled by a business owner who uses Isaacman's company, Shift4Payments.
To have a chance at winning a seat on the flight, you can donate to St Jude's or start at Shift4 shop via the Inspiration4 site.
23. The remaining passengers will be announced next month, according to AP. But one thing that will unite all of his fellow crew, Isaacman declared, is that they will be people “from everyday walks of life.”
What will Jared Isaacman do in space?
Isaacman will make it into orbit some time before the end of 2021, if everything goes to plan.
24. Once off Earth, the capsule will be set to automatic piloting, although Isaacman would be able to override the system if need be, as he will be the commander of the flight.
25. Additionally, Isaacman "will be supported by SpaceX mission control for the duration of the journey," according to the Inspiration4 site.
26. The spacecraft will orbit the Earth, a journey which should take between two and four days before the civilian crew makes it back to solid ground. In that time, the crew onboard will get to enjoy the view of the Earth from a few hundred miles above the surface, and hopefully, enjoy more scintillating conversation than you might be stuck with on a typical long-haul flight.
27. The flight will orbit Earth every 90 minutes along a customized flight path, according to SpaceX.
28. As well as donating the other seats on the craft, Isaacman also announced he will use the flight to space to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — hence the passenger pick of the healthcare worker.
29. Half of that amount will be donated by Isaacman himself, he has said.
"I appreciate the tremendous responsibility that comes with commanding this mission and I want to use this historic moment to inspire humanity while helping to tackle childhood cancer here on Earth,” Isaacman said in a statement on Monday.
This is the same inspiration as his effort to circumnavigate the globe at record speeds in a light jet, back in 2009.
Private space flight: The future for SpaceX?
SpaceX is planning another private, roundtrip flight to space, due to launch no earlier than January, 2022.
Isaacman's news came hot on the heels of the announcement by Axiom Space that four crew members have been chosen for its AX-1 mission. Each of the crew will effectively pay $55 million for their seat and 8-day stay on the International Space Station.
These four crew members are: Axiom Space's vice president Michael López-Alegría, real estate and technology entrepreneur Larry Connor, investor and philanthropist Mark Pathy, and former Israeli astronaut Etyan Stibbe.
Axiom Space will also use the Crew Dragon capsule, suggesting SpaceX's future may lie increasingly in taking tourists into the cosmos, and not just astronauts.