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SpaceX's first all-civilian crew is strapped inside the Dragon Crew Capsule as they wait to launch into space TONIGHT on a three-day mission to orbit the Earth in a capsule the size of a camper van

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  • The four Inspiration4 crew members emerged from SpaceX Hanger X around 4 pm ET on Wednesday 
  • They said goodbye to family and piled into Tesla cars that took them to SpaceX's new suit-up room   
  • The team has been strapped inside the Dragon Crew Capsule and are waiting for the 8:02 pm ET launch 
  • The four civilians will spend 3 days in orbit in a modified Crew Dragon module that is  27 x 13ft, with one traveler describing it as a 'camper van' 

The four members of the Inspiration4 mission are strapped in their seats inside the Dragon Crew capsule that sits atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which is set to launch this first all-civilian crew into space. 

Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski are set to launch at some point after 8:02 pm ET at the space center and start their three-day journey orbiting around Earth. 

The team boarded the specially modified version of SpaceX's capsule Crew Dragon, featuring a domed window or 'Cupola' to allow some sensational views of space.   

Sembroski, a 42-year-old Air Force veteran, compared the extraordinary voyage to a 'camper van' ride.

SpaceX's ground team completed successful communication and final check with the crew inside the capsule shortly after the hatch as the countdown clock nears lift off. 

Although this is not the first time civilians have travelled to space, Inspiration4 is the first mission manned solely by civilians.

The four members of the Inspiration4 mission are strapped in their seats inside the Dragon Crew capsule that sits atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which is set to launch this first all-civilian crew into space

The four members of the Inspiration4 mission are strapped in their seats inside the Dragon Crew capsule that sits atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which is set to launch this first all-civilian crew into space

The team is all smiles inside the capsule as they done the iconic white space suits that are customized to fit each of the individual's bodies

The team is all smiling inside the capsule as they don the iconic white space suits that are customized to fit each of the individual's bodies

They began this journey at 4:07 pm ET when the four individuals emerged from Hangar X, where they were met by a large crowd cheering them on.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was also present to see the crew off and also appeared to be just as excited as the team going to space.

The Inspiration team said their final goodbyes to friends and family and packed into two white Tesla Model X vehicles and drove to SpaceX's new suit-up room to get in their space gear.

Isaacman, the commander of the mission, is funding the trip in a private deal made with SpaceX.

The other three civilians were selected via a competition launched in February.  

Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski are set to launch at some point after 8:02pm ET at the space center and start their three-day journey orbiting around Earth

Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski are set to launch at some point after 8:02 pm ET at the space center and start their three-day journey orbiting around Earth

The four members of the Inspiration4 mission are donning SpaceX's iconic white suits as they prepare for their journey to becoming the first all-civilian crew in space.

The four members of the Inspiration4 mission are donning SpaceX's iconic white suits as they prepare for their journey to becoming the first all-civilian crew in space.

Before heading into the capsule, Sian Proctor (left) and Hayley Arceneaux (right) signed their names by the SpaceX symbol to signify the first all-civilian mission

Before heading into the capsule, Sian Proctor (left) and Hayley Arceneaux (right) signed their names by the SpaceX symbol to signify the first all-civilian mission

The four members of the Inspiration4 mission emerged from SpaceX’s Hangar X facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida around 3:50pm ET, as they start their journey to becoming the first all-civilian crew in space

The four members of the Inspiration4 mission emerged from SpaceX’s Hangar X facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida around 3:50 pm ET, as they start their journey to becoming the first all-civilian crew in space

The crew was met by a large crowd outside the hangar as they start their journey to the Falcon 9 rocket that will take them into orbit

The crew was met by a large crowd outside the hangar as they start their journey to the Falcon 9 rocket that will take them into orbit

The crew waved to a crowd outside Hanger X as they walked toward to a pair of white Tesla Model X vehicles, where they said their final goodbyes to friends and family

The crew waved to a crowd outside Hanger X as they walked toward a pair of white Tesla Model X vehicles, where they said their final goodbyes to friends and family

Jared Isaacman, the commander of the mission, is funding the trip in a private deal made with SpaceX

Jared Isaacman, the commander of the mission, is funding the trip in a private deal made with SpaceX

He's not far off: the interior of the Dragon Capsule offers its occupants a cramped 27 by 13 feet of space.

'You just wrap yourself in (sleeping bags) so you don't float into each other during the middle of the night!' he joked. 

'No jitters, excited to get going!' American billionaire Isaacman told reporters when asked about his state of mind at a press conference.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk met with the crowd prior to launch

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk met with the crowd prior to launch

Musk cheers as he sees off the Inspiration 4 crew, the first all-civilian crew to be sent into orbit, before they head to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Pad 39A

Musk cheers as he sees off the Inspiration 4 crew, the first all-civilian crew to be sent into orbit before they head to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Pad 39A

'Any jitters are the good kind,' added 29-year-old physician assistant Arceneaux. 'I'm just so excited.'    

This morning, SpaceX confirmed that the launch is on track for this evening. 

'Falcon 9 and Dragon on pad 39A in Florida,' it tweeted.

'Five-hour launch window for opens at 8:02 p.m. EDT on September 15.'    

The Inspiration4 crew (L-R) Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman and Hayley Arceneaux pose for a photo

The Inspiration4 crew (L-R) Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman, and Hayley Arceneaux pose for a photo

Pictured is the redesigned SpaceX Dragon Crew capsule, which now features a glass dome at the top for the crew to look out at space

Pictured is the redesigned SpaceX Dragon Crew capsule, which now features a glass dome at the top for the crew to look out at space 

Isaacman is the CEO of Shift4 Payments, while Proctor is a community college educator in Arizona, Sembroski a former Air Force missileman from Washington and Arceneaux is a physician assistant at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Tennessee. 

INSPIRATION4 CREW 

- Jared Isaacman, CEO of Shift4 Payments 

- Sian Proctor, a community college educator in Arizona

- Chris Sembroski, a former Air Force missileman from Washington

- Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Tennessee

Inspiration4 is designed primarily to raise awareness and support for the pediatric cancer center, which successfully treated Arceneaux for bone cancer when she was a child. 

The mission aimed to raise $200 million for the hospital - Isaacman donated $100 million of his own money to the goal. 

Crew Dragon will orbit Earth for three days, completing one orbit every 90 minutes along a customized flight path as it travels at more than 17,000 miles per hour.

Its progress will be carefully monitored at every step by SpaceX mission control. 

SpaceX says: 'Upon conclusion of the mission, Dragon will reenter Earth's atmosphere for a soft water landing off the coast of Florida.'  

The Inspiration4 crew has received commercial astronaut training by SpaceX on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, orbital mechanics, operating in low gravity, and other forms of stress testing before travelling.

'There will be several months of training,' Isaacman previously told DailyMail.com earlier this year.

Crew Dragon's 365lbs cargo capacity has been allocated for both crew essentials as well as scientific equipment dedicated to micro-gravity research and experimentation. 

'While we are up there we are going to bring payloads and do experiments,' Isaacman said.

'We offered to take payloads from St. Jude's and other places because the wait list is extremely long.'

SpaceX's capsule Crew Dragon features a domed window or 'Cupola' to allow some sensational views of space for the four-person crew

SpaceX's capsule Crew Dragon features a domed window or 'Cupola' to allow some sensational views of space for the four-person crew 

Jared Isaacman, from left to right, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski form the Inspiration4 crew

Jared Isaacman, from left to right, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski form the Inspiration4 crew 

Following the announcement of Inspiration4 back in February, Musk told  NBC News: 'Any mission where there's a crew on board makes me nervous. The risk is not zero. 

'When you've got a brand new mode of transportation, you have to have pioneers. Things are expensive at first, and as you're able to increase the launch rate, increase the production rate, refine the technology, it becomes less expensive and accessible to more people.

'We'll all be with Jared on the journey and we'll be seeing it in real-time. It's an important milestone on the road toward making access to space more affordable.' 

A few days later, a 30-second advertisement was broadcast during the SuperBowl break, directing potential Inspiration4 crew members to apply on its website. 

The ad displayed close-up shots of a SpaceX Suit, adorned with a patch representing the mission's four pillars – leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity.

These four pillars also correspond to the four members of the crew – Isaacman, Arceneaux, Sembroski, and Proctor, respectively, according to the Inspiration4 website.

The SpaceX-led mission follows trips to space from two of Musk's billionaire rivals – Sir Richard Branson, who heads Virgin Galactic, and Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin and Amazon. 

Bezos jetted off to space on July 20 aboard a New Shepard rocket with his brother Mark Bezos, as well as Dutch 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, who became the youngest person in space, and former NASA trainee Wally Funk, 82, who became the oldest.  

The Blue Origin founder reached 13 miles higher than billionaire rival Sir Richard Branson who flew to space during his own manned test flight on July 11. 

A shot of the Inspiration4 suit, adorned with a patch representing the mission's four pillars - leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity

A shot of the Inspiration4 suit, adorned with a patch representing the mission's four pillars - leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity

The difference with SpaceX's mission on Wednesday is that the company boss, Musk, won't be flying to space himself. 

Inspiration4 also plans to go into orbit – further than either Virgin Galactic or Blue Origin.  

The three ultra-wealthy CEOs envisage an era where members of the public pay exorbitant amounts for a holiday in space – a phenomenon frequently dubbed 'space tourism'.    

In the age of climate change and a viral pandemic, some believe there are more important issues than jetting off on luxury space flights.

Writing for MailOnline in July, broadcaster John Humphrys said: 'Let's try to swallow our envy that billionaires get to cruise the cosmos while most of us can't even manage a week in Crete.' 

He called the current space race an 'utterly pointless exercise in inflating egos that already dwarf the size of the average planet'.       

SPACEX CREW DRAGON CAPSULE MEASURES 20FT AND CAN CARRY 7 ASTRONAUTS AT A TIME

The March 2 test, the first launch of U.S. astronauts from U.S. soil in eight years, will inform the system design and operations (Artist's impression)

The March 2 test, the first launch of U.S. astronauts from U.S. soil in eight years, will inform the system design and operations (Artist's impression)

The capsule measures about 20 feet tall by 12 feet in diameter and will carry up to 7 astronauts at a time. 

The Crew Dragon features an advanced emergency escape system (which was tested earlier this year) to swiftly carry astronauts to safety if something were to go wrong, experiencing about the same G-forces as a ride at Disneyland. 

It also has an Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) that provides a comfortable and safe environment for crew members. 

Crew Dragon's displays will provide real-time information on the state of the spacecraft's capabilities, showing everything from Dragon's position in space, to possible destinations, to the environment onboard.  

Those CRS-2 Dragon missions will use 'propulsive' landings, where the capsule lands on a landing pad using its SuperDraco thrusters rather than splashing down in the ocean. 

 That will allow NASA faster access to the cargo returned by those spacecraft, and also build up experience for propulsive landings of crewed Dragon spacecraft.

 

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