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SpaceX launches first ever all-civilian crew bound for orbit

A SpaceX rocket ship blasted off from Florida on Wednesday (September 15) carrying a billionaire e-commerce executive and three less-wealthy private citizens he chose to join him in the first all-civilian crew ever launched on a flight to Earth orbit.

The quartet of amateur space travelers, led by the American founder and chief executive of financial services firm Shift4 Payments Inc , Jared Isaacman, lifted off at 8:03 p.m. EDT (0003 GMT Thursday) from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

A SpaceX webcast of the launch showed Isaacman, 38, and his crewmates – Sian Proctor, 51, Hayley Arceneaux, 29, and Chris Sembroski, 42 – strapped into the pressurized cabin of their gleaming white SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed Resilience, wearing their helmeted black-and-white flight suits.

The capsule roared into the Florida sky perched atop one of the company’s reusable two-stage Falcon 9 rockets and fitted with a special observation dome in place of its usual docking hatch.

The flight, the first crewed mission headed to orbit with no professional astronauts along for the ride, is expected to last about three days from launch to splashdown in the Atlantic, mission officials said.

It marked the debut flight of SpaceX owner Elon Musk’s new orbital tourism business, and a leap ahead of competitors likewise offering rides on rocket ships to customers willing to pay a small fortune for the exhilaration – and bragging rights – of space flight.

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