By Nicole Lyn Pesce
This SpaceX flight is poised to leave those recent Virgin Galactic /zigman2/quotes/208333884/composite SPCE -16.83% and Blue Origin trips in its space dust.
The Inspiration4 mission is poised to send four civilians into Earth’s orbit on Wednesday night, aiming for a maximum altitude of 357 miles, which is about 80 miles higher than the international Space Station.
The crew will then circle the globe for three days before returning to Earth. By comparison, the suborbital rides by Richard Branson and Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN +3.31% founder Jeff Bezos only featured a few minutes at the edge of space. Those voyages, taken separately over the summer reached a maximum altitude of 53.5 miles and 65 miles, respectively.
The Inspiration4 mission is also looking to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The all-American and all-civilian crew includes Hayley Arceneaux, a childhood cancer survivor who is now a physician assistant at St. Jude. Her fellow crew members include billionaire Jared Isaacman, who chartered the mission; aerospace engineer and Air Force veteran Chris Sembroski; and Sian Proctor, a community college professor. There will be no pilot in this fully automated vehicle, per the Associated Press.
The crew will blast off from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fl. In a Dragon spacecraft capsule on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The Inspiration4 mission’s five-hour launch window opens on Wednesday at 8:02 p.m. ET, and ends at 1:02 a.m. ET. The exact lift-off time will depend on the weather. If the launch is scrubbed, the crew can try again on Thursday at 8:05 p.m. ET.
How to watch
SpaceX will begin livestreaming the launch on its YouTube /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG +0.19% channel as early as 3:45 p.m. ET.
The launch will also stream at Space.com at the same time, courtesy of SpaceX.
Netflix /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX -0.87% will also livestream the launch on its own YouTube channel, beginning at 7 p.m. ET, with notables such as journalist Soledad O’Brien and “Queer Eye’s” Karamo Brown hosting. SpaceX and Tesla /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA +3.02% founder Elon Musk also promoted the Netflix docuseries “Countdown” stream on his Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR -0.63% account on Wednesday, which gives a behind-the-scenes look at how the crew trained for their historic mission.
And here’s how the previous flights of billionaires Bezos and Branson match up .