Polaris Dawn mission to be launched in December

The Polaris Dawn mission, which will host the first ever private spacewalk, will be launched in December. This was announced by its sponsor and commander Jared Isaacman at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022 event.

Jared Isaacman’s Private Spaceflight Program

Jared Isaacman became famous in 2021 after he sponsored the Inspiration4 mission — the first ever private flight into orbit with an exclusively civilian crew. Its main goal was to raise funds to support the St. Jude Children’s Hospital and fight cancer.

The crew of the Inspiration4 mission. Source: SpaceX

Inspiration4 went into space in September 2021 on the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Isaakman was accompanied by medical worker Hayley Arsenault, popularizer of science Zayan Proctor and former pilot Christopher Sembroski. In total, they spent three days in space, and then successfully returned to Earth.

Shortly after the completion of the flight, Isaacman announced a new space program called Polaris. As part of it, he will finance at least three private space expeditions.

Polaris Dawn Mission Objectives

The Polaris Dawn mission will be the first flight under the Polaris program. Its commander will be Isaakman, the crew will also include former US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Scott Poteet and SpaceX engineers Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon.

The crew of the Polaris Dawn mission. Source: Polaris Program / John Kraus.

The upcoming flight has three main goals. First, Crew Dragon will have to enter orbit with an apogee of 1400 km. Thus, Polaris Dawn will surpass the record set back in 1966 by the Gemini 11 mission, which reached an altitude of 1,372 km (the Apollo expeditions moved away from Earth for much longer distances, but they did it during flights to the Moon, and not in near-Earth orbit). 

The second task will be to conduct scientific research. In total, during the five-day flight, the mission participants plan to perform over 35 scientific experiments. The purpose of many of them will be to study the effect of increased radiation levels on the health of astronauts (the orbit of the Crew Dragon will be so high that the spacecraft will occasionally cross the inner sections of the Earth’s radiation belts). The astronauts also plan to test the possibility of using Starlink satellites for communication.

The concept of the Polaris Dawn mission. Source: Polaris

And finally, during the flight, the first ever private spacewalk will take place. The operation will be performed at an altitude of 500 km, which is comparable to the height of the Hubble telescope’s orbit. The mission participants have already started training, and SpaceX engineers have made a number of changes to the spacecraft’s life support system. Since Crew Dragon does not have a separate airlock compartment, the crew will have to depressurize the entire spacecraft to perform the procedure. Spacesuits created by SpaceX will be used to go into space.

According to https://spacenews.com

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