SpaceX's private Polaris Dawn orbital mission delayed to summer 2024

We’ll have to wait a few more months to see the first-ever private spacewalk.

Launch of the private Polaris Dawn mission — which aims to notch that milestone, as well as test SpaceX’s Starlink internet service in space and conduct a variety of science experiments — has been delayed from April to no earlier than this summer, its organizers announced on Thursday (Feb. 8).

“The additional time continues to provide necessary developmental time to ensure both the completion of these mission goals and a safe launch and return of Dragon and the crew,” the Polaris Program said via X on Thursday.

As that post indicates, Polaris Dawn will use SpaceX hardware, launching four people to Earth orbit in a Crew Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

Those four are Jared Isaacman, the billionaire behind the Polaris Program of private space exploration, retired U.S. Air Force colonel Scott Poteet, and SpaceX employees Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon.

Isaacman will command Polaris Dawn. Poteet will serve as pilot, and Gillis and Menon will be the payload specialist and medical officer, respectively.

Polaris Dawn will spend up to five days in Earth orbit. Like September 2021’s Inspiration4 mission, which Isaacman also commanded and funded, Polaris Dawn will be a free flyer; it will not meet up with the International Space Station. The coming mission will also raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, as Inspiration4 did.

The latest delay is not the first for Polaris Dawn; it initially was targeted to launch in late 2022.

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Polaris Dawn will be the first of three missions in the Polaris Program, which Isaacman wants to help push the boundaries of private spaceflight.

The billionaire entrepreneur has said that he plans to use SpaceX’s next-generation Starship rocket for at least one of the Polaris missions. Starship has conducted two test flights to date, in April and November of last year. SpaceX is currently gearing up for Starship’s third flight, which could lift off as soon as this month.

Source: Space.com

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