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SpaceX launches world’s first ‘amateur astronaut’ crew to orbit Earth

SpaceX has launched its first amateur astronaut crew to orbit the earth.

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SpaceX has launched its first amateur astronaut crew to orbit the earth.

It’s the first chartered passenger flight for Elon Musk’s space company and the first time a rocket streaked toward orbit with a crew that contained no professional astronauts. Leading the flight is Jared Isaacman, 38, who made his fortune with a payment-processing company he started in his teens. Isaacman is the third billionaire to launch this summer, following flights by Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson and Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos in July.

Also along for the ride are the sweepstakes winners Chris Sembroski, 42, a data engineer in Everett, Washington, and Sian Proctor, 51, a community college educator in Tempe, Arizona.

Isaacman, an accomplished pilot, persuaded SpaceX to take the Dragon capsule higher than it’s ever been. Initially reluctant because of the increased radiation exposure and other risks, SpaceX agreed after a safety review.

Though the capsule is automated, the four Dragon riders spent six months in training. The training included centrifuge and fighter jet flights, launch and re-entry practice in SpaceX’s capsule simulator and a grueling trek up to Washington’s Mount Rainier in the snow.

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