Previously, Jared Isaacman commanded the Inspiration4 mission in September 2021. Inspiration4 was the first fully private crewed mission flown by SpaceX and raised more than $100 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by September 18, 2021, including a large donation by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. By the end of 2021, it raised more than $240 million.
Now, Isaacman plans to command the Polaris Dawn mission, which could be the first to test SpaceX’s spacesuit design.
The Polaris Dawn crew will also include SpaceX engineers Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon as mission specialists. Isaacman’s business associate, Scott “Kidd” Poteet, as pilot.
SpaceX’s Polaris Program aims to reach orbital altitudes comparable to NASA’s Gemini Program in the 1960s. Gemini XI, crewed by Pete Conrad and Richard Gordon, reached an orbital altitude of 853 miles. The International Space Station’s orbit has varied from 205 miles to 248 miles in altitude with occasional altitude boosts to account for the small amount of atmospheric drag at its lower altitude.
Polaris Dawn will launch as soon as Q4 2022 from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center and spend five days in orbit. The high altitude will give a better understanding of the effects of radiation levels in the Van Allen belts and beyond on human health. The mission plan also includes the first commercial spacewalk and a communications test involving Starlink’s laser-based communications.
Because the Crew Dragon doesn’t have an airlock, all the crew members will have to wear pressure suits while the Dragon is depressurized for the spacewalk. Gemini used a similar procedure for its EVAs.
Starlink is SpaceX’s Internet service constellation with nearly 2,000 functional satellites currently in orbit. By the time Polaris Dawn flies, some next-generation Starlink satellites that include laser communications should be in orbit.
Like Inspiration4, the Polaris Program is also collecting donations for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Jared Isaacman is a pilot and entrepreneur who founded Shift4, a payment processing solution for online shops. Besides the St. Jude fundraiser, he gave away a seat to one person who tested Shift4 on an ecommerce site.
Of his welding of his enthusiasm of spaceflight with his support with St. Jude, he said, “I’m personally as committed to seeing the SpaceX vision of a world … where people can journey among the stars as I am to St. Jude and their vision that no child should die in the dawn of life.”
Scott Poteet is a retired United States Air Force lieutenant colonel with more than 3,200 flying hours and 400 hours of combat time. Since leaving the Air Force, he became the VP of Strategy at Shift4 and served as Mission Director for Inspiration4.
Sarah Gillis oversees SpaceX’s astronaut training program as a Lead Space Operations Engineer and has worked with NASA’s astronauts on the Demo-2 and Crew-1 missions.
Anna Menon is also a Lead Space Operations Engineer for SpaceX, overseeing development of crew operations and working in SpaceX’s Mission Control as a Mission Director and crew communicator. She has helped developed emergency procedures for Crew Dragon missions. Her previous experience includes serving in NASA’s Mission Control for the International Space Station as a biomedical flight controller.