SpaceX in turn enters the battle for space tourism

The shooting window opens from Wednesday, September 15, 8 p.m. PT Cape Canaveral, Fla. SpaceX, the firm of Elon Musk, will send four space tourists, two men and two women, for a three-day epic around the Earth. Objective, to reach the 575 kilometers of altitude, beyond the International Space Station or the Hubble telescope. Much higher, above all, than its competitors Virgin Galactic, of the British Richard Branson, or Blue Origin, of the American Jeff Bezos, who only dispatched their space tourists, in July, to 86 and 106 kilometers of altitude , for a few minutes, at heights too low to be able to remain in orbit.

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Unlike Mr. Branson and Mr. Bezos, Elon Musk did not spend time on space travel. He sent his crew alone, made up entirely of civilians, without a professional astronaut. It is about a successful entrepreneur, Jared Isaacman, who paid the entire bill, for an undisclosed amount.

The 38-year-old autodidact, founding president of the payments financial firm Shift4 Payments, in Pennsylvania ($ 6.5 billion, or 5.5 billion euros, in market capitalization), admitted to the AP agency that ‘it was legitimate to ask questions about the trade-off between spending your fortune looking at Earth from space or solving problems down here. Future tourist places were sold by SpaceX for $ 55 million.

On board the Dragon capsule, tourists will not have to fly, the capsule being remotely controlled from Earth, but they are supposed to engage in medical experiments

As a good American billionaire, Mr. Isaacman associates a philanthropic gesture with his private expedition: he has pledged to personally donate $ 100 million to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and to raise An additional 100 million. One of the places was offered to St. Jude Hospital, which chose Hayley Arceneaux, one of its former patients who had bone cancer at the age of 10. Mme Arceneaux, who wears a titanium prosthesis on her femur, said she was proud to pave the way for “Those who are not physically perfect”. At 29, this paramedic is the youngest female astronaut in history. Added to this are Sian Proctor, 51, an educator who won an art competition organized by Shift4 Payments, and Chris Sembroski, 42, a former US Air Force engineer, who benefited from a lottery organized by the St. Jude Hospital.

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