TAMPA, Fla (CBS News) — An all-civilian crew blasted off Wednesday evening atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the first privately funded, non-government trip to orbit the Earth. The three-day Inspiration4 mission is devoted to raising $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Billionaire Jared Isaacman, who chartered the mission, will be joined by Chris Sembroski, an aerospace engineer; Sian Proctor, an artist-educator who will become only the fourth Black woman to fly in space; and Hayley Arceneaux, a childhood cancer survivor who was treated at St. Jude and now works at the hospital. At age 29, Arceneaux will be the youngest American to fly in space.
Blastoff from historic pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center is targeted for 8:02 p.m. EDT, kicking off a 12-minute climb to a 360-mile-high orbit, 100 miles above the International Space Station. It’s the highest anyone will have flown since the last shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009.