KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – It’s going to be a late night for the first all-civilian space crew launching from Florida’s coast this week.
After weeks of waiting the Inspiration4 mission liftoff window was revealed Sunday. SpaceX will attempt to launch the four non-professional astronauts on a Falcon 9 rocket sometime during a five-hour launch window that opens Wednesday at 8:02 p.m.
“Teams selected the five-hour launch window based upon weather forecasts for the launch site, along the ascent corridor, and possible landing locations off the coasts of Florida for a safe return of the crew and splashdown a few days later,” according to a news release.
After lifting off from Kennedy Space Center, the crew will orbit Earth for three days in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule.
On Sunday, SpaceX rolled the rocket and spacecraft out to launchpad 39A. SpaceX and the Inspiration4 team were also conducting a full rehearsal of launch day activities Sunday night. Next, the company is expected to test-fire the rocket’s nine Merlin engines sometime overnight into Monday morning.
Elon Musk’s private space company was charted by billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman to launch the Inspiration4 mission. Three other civilians joining Isaacman just learned of their spaceflight less than a year ago, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital physician Hayley Arcenauex, college geology professor Dr. Sian Proctor and aerospace engineer Chris Sembroski.
While Arcenauex was chosen by her employer after Isaacman approached the research hospital about a fundraising effort to raise $200 million for St. Jude, Proctor and Sembroski had a different path to space. Sembroski entered a raffle that was kicked off via a Super Bowl ad in February and Proctor used Isaacman’s Shift4Payment platform to raise funds for St. Jude with her art and poetry. She was then selected by a panel of judges for the mission.
The crew arrived in style via fighter jets to Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center on Friday.
The crew members will spend three days orbiting Earth, document their experience and conduct low-gravity science before splashing down off Florida’s coast.
According to the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron, the current launch window has a 70% chance of favorable liftoff conditions. The primary concerns Wednesday night will be cloud cover and rain.
If the launch scrubs Wednesday a backup window opens Thursday, also at 8:05 p.m. Chances on Thursday improve slightly with an 80% chance of favorable liftoff weather, according to Space Force weather officers.