Can four humans who have never been in space before spend three days alone orbiting the Earth, having only trained for a few months? This is the challenge that SpaceX, whose first space tourism mission is due to take off on Wednesday evening.
Called Inspiration4, it is the first in history to send only novices into orbit, without a professional on board.
Take-off must take place from 8:02 p.m. local time (00:02 GMT Thursday, i.e. 2:00 a.m. Belgian time), with a launch window of five hours. The Falcon 9 rocket and, at its top, the Dragon capsule, will be propelled from the Kennedy Center of Nasa, Florida.
The four Americans on board must travel beyond the International Space Station (ISS), to a target orbit of 575 km. They will circumnavigate the globe about 15 times each day.
At the end of their journey, they will land off Florida.
Read also: Inspiration4: all about SpaceX’s space mission, which will send four tourists beyond the ISS this Wednesday
The mission was chartered by the billionaire Jared Isaacman, 38, boss of a financial services company and seasoned pilot. The price he paid SpaceX has not been disclosed, but runs into tens of millions of dollars. He will be the captain on board, and offered three more seats to strangers:
Hayley Arceneaux, 29-year-old medical assistant, survivor of pediatric cancer: she will be the youngest American and the first person with a prosthesis (femur) to go into orbit.
Chris Sembroski, 42, formerly in the United States Air Force.
Sian Proctor, 51-year-old earth science professor, fourth African-American woman to go to space.