“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Is a pretty standard question for children, with a pretty standard set of unrealistic answers, including, cowboy, movie star and astronaut. However, one of these unlikely pipe dreams is about to get a lot more realistic, thanks to the one company. SpaceX plans to perform its first-ever commercial spacewalk later this year, featuring only civilians, without any real astronauts.
According to Digital Trends, billionaire entrepreneur Jared Isaacman is said to lead the spacewalk, who you may recall also took part in SpaceX’s first all-civilian crew during their brief trip into orbit last year with the famed Inspiration4 crew. Isaacman is the CEO and founder of Shift4 Payments, which has apparently also earned him the responsibilities of helping plan the new space missions from the privately funded space program called Polaris.
Polaris Dawn will aim to work just like Isaacman’s first trip, with the actual SpaceX commercial spacewalk being part of a three-mission program using the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Crew Dragon capsule. This particular mission is planned for five days, with Isaacman and his crew set to reach the highest altitude ever flown for crewed Earth orbit. The current holder of that title is NASA’s Gemini 11 mission from 1966, which was able to reach as high as 1,374 km above the Earth.
The Polaris Dawn crew is expected to not just reach incredible heights, but also perform some tests on newly deployed Starlink satellites. Retired Air Force pilot Scott Poteet and two SpaceX engineers: Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon, will join the billionaire on this mission to fill out the four-person roster. They will be the first spacewalkers to not be backed by NASA or any other long-established space agency.
Going to space is already an exceptionally dangerous undertaking. Spacewalks only multiply that level of danger, even for those that specialise in doing so. Between the risk of getting hit with space debris, floating away, or even just the terrifying levels of radiation, there is probably a reason nobody else has attempted this move that is reminiscent of Michael Bay’s Armageddon.