The Inspiration4 mission is scheduled to launch today from Kennedy Space Center aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Today’s launch is the third in a series of launches this year that have been sponsored by billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. However, this launch is notable because it is the first unmanned, all-civilian crewed mission to orbit Earth.
This mission will mark a significant shift in the nature of manned spaceflight. SpaceX has long stated that its goal is to make access to space cheap, and with significant economic incentives for access to space, civilian missions will increasingly become common. With NASA’s financial backing of SpaceX to take the next generation of American astronauts to the moon, it is likely that the goals and budgets of international public space agencies will radically change in the coming years to focus more on the support of commercial activities.
With each successful first-in-kind mission like today’s, expect increased commotion in Washington to coerce NASA to shift its budgetary focus towards competing with China and Europe to access the moon and lucrative near-Earth asteroids, and to abandon expensive in-house rocketry programs in favor of commercial operators like SpaceX.
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An international finance and strategy professional, Niko serves on the Current Developments Team with a focus on global business and policy trends in order to understand the key drivers of international investment. Niko's specific interests are in energy, emerging and frontier markets, and trade policy; he contributes regularly to the Daily Brief