14 February 2022

Billionaire who flew on SpaceX last year going back into orbit

14 February 2022

A tech billionaire who launched on his own SpaceX flight last year is heading back up, and aiming for an even higher orbit.

Jared Isaacman announced on Monday that he will make another private spaceflight launching from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre.

It will be the first of three crew SpaceX flights to try out new tech, culminating in the first flight of the company’s new Starship with people on board.

The Starship project (Miguel Roberts/Brownsville Herald/AP) (AP)

Mr Isaacman paid an undisclosed amount for a three-day spaceflight for himself and three others last September.

On Monday, he said he and Elon Musk’s SpaceX are sharing costs for the upcoming flight but he would not provide details.

Mr Isaacman and three others – two SpaceX engineers and a retired air force pilot – aim to blast off aboard a Falcon rocket no earlier than November.

They will circle Earth for up to five days, higher than any previous Dragon capsule — the September flight reached more than 350 miles high.

This time, SpaceX will be shooting for more than 400 miles to pass through part of the Van Allen radiation belts surrounding Earth.

They will also conduct a spacewalk using new SpaceX suits, and use Starlink internet satellites launched by SpaceX to test communication from orbit.

Last week, Mr Musk showed off the Starship, the tallest and most powerful rocket ever built.

He is awaiting clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration before launching it from Texas on its first orbital test flight. No one will be on board.

With two SpaceX employees assigned to a spaceflight — Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon — the California-based company is effectively creating its own astronaut corps.

“The first two of what I am sure will be many,” Mr Isaacman tweeted.

Ms Menon is married to a former SpaceX flight surgeon who was chosen by Nasa in December as an astronaut.

The fourth passenger is Scott Poteet, a retired air force lieutenant colonel who served as mission director for Mr Isaacman’s September trip.

He has also worked for Mr Isaacman’s Shift4 Payments company and Draken International, a high-performance aircraft company the tech tycoon co-founded.

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