Monday, February 8, 2021
The mission, expected this fall, will be commanded by Jared Isaacman, the 37-year-old founder and CEO of Shift4, who is also footing the bill for the mission, dubbed Inspiration4. The name reflects the four-person crew's mission to inspire support for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
In addition to Isaacman, the space flight will include two individuals selected by St. Jude's. The fourth seat is reserved for a lucky user of the Shift4Shop ecommerce platform. Shifit4Shop, previously known as 3dcart and acquired by Shift4 in November 2020, is a feature-rich ecommerce platform designed to serve businesses of all sizes. Clients can choose from dozens of professionally designed, industry-specific, customizable and mobile-friendly templates that are SEO optimized.
Shift4 is running an online competition now through Feb. 28, encouraging users of the platform to vie for a seat on Inspiration4. In its closing shot, the 30-second ad directs viewers to learn more at Shift4Shop.com. That page encourages viewers to "Launch Your Business for an Opportunity to Launch in to Space."
Individuals vying for the seat on Inspiration 4 are asked to post short videos to Twitter highlighting their entrepreneurial stories and linking to their Shift4Shop websites. Top trending videos will be reviewed by a panel of celebrity judges, who will select a winner to join Isaacman and the rest of the crew on Inspiration4.
Isaacman and the crew will undergo commercial astronaut training by SpaceX, the aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company owned by business magnate Elon Musk. The multi-day journey into space will launch from the historic Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
"The Inspiration4 mission gives us a historic opportunity to not only explore space but assemble a crew that represents the best of humankind's ideals," Isaacman said. "I want to use this moment to bring humanity together and remind people that inspiring ourselves and each other can change the course of our future."
Isaacman has committed to give $100 million to St. Jude's and is encouraging others to join him in a mission to raise upward of $200 million to support a St. Jude's expansion effort. Isaacman and Shift4 also are offering additional support to St. Jude's fundraising efforts in the form of other prizes, including flights in a military jet and flight gear.
An accomplished pilot rated to fly commercial and military aircraft, Isaacman holds several world records in addition to being a successful entrepreneur in his own right. Isaacman co-founded the company now known as Shift4, at the age of 22. Last year the company processed about $200 billion in merchant card payments.
His aeronautical records include a Speed-Around-the-World flight in a light jet to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. At just under 62 hours, the flight beat a previous record of 82 hours. In 2011, at the age of 27, Isaacman founded the world's largest private air force, Draken International, to train pilots for the U.S. Armed Forces.
The 30-second ad, one of the first ads run during a first-quarter break in the Super Bowl, is titled "Join Us." It revolves around close-up shots of an authentic SpaceX suit, featuring a patch representing the Inspiration4 mission's four pillars: leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity. As the camera moves across the suit, with a rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" in the background, a voice intones, "This fall Inspiration4 launches as the first all-civilian mission to space, and you could be on board."
Actress, producer and director Bryce Dallas Howard directed the commercial. She is the daughter of famed actor and director Ron Howard, whose credits include the Academy Award-winning film Apollo 13, a profile in courage of the ill-fated third lunar landing in 1970.
"To me, this was an undeniable opportunity to present the ultimate Golden Ticket," Howard said. "This mission represents just how much humanity has to offer."
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