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Friday, September 17, 2021

Isaacman takes charitable giving to new heights

Media outlets have used the words "average," "normal," "regular" and "tourists," to describe the civilians currently orbiting the earth every 90 minutes on a SpaceX Dragon, but there is nothing ordinary about the Inspiration4 crew and its mission commander Jared Isaacman, founder and chief executive officer of Shift4. The three-day orbital flight, financed and led by Isaacman, is set to splash down off the coast of Florida on or around Sept. 18, 2021, depending on weather, according to SpaceX representatives.

Isaacman called Inspiration4 "the realization of a lifelong dream and a step towards a future in which anyone can venture out and explore the stars." He pointed out that the mission's goal is to raise awareness and funds to support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and its efforts to end childhood cancer. "I appreciate the tremendous responsibility that comes with commanding this mission, and I want to use this historic moment to inspire humanity while helping to tackle childhood cancer here on Earth," he said in a statement.

Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and CEO, who has sent 14 astronauts into space within the last 12 months, has shared Inspiration4 updates on Twitter. "Just spoke with Inspiration4x crew," he tweeted on Sept. 16, 2021. "All is well."

Rigorous training

In a pre-flight news conference held Sept. 14, at Cape Canaveral, Isaacman and crew affirmed their readiness for the mission. Isaacman noted that he and fellow crew members Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, Hayley Arceneaux, a medical assistant and Chris Sembroski, a data scientist, underwent months of rigorous training to prepare for the historic flight.

Pre-flight training included learning how to operate in microgravity, zero gravity and manage various unanticipated events, SpaceX representatives stated. In addition, Isaacman, a licensed commercial and military aircraft operator, took crew members on Falcon jet training exercises, which he described as riskier in some ways than their subsequent SpaceX rocket launch.

Acknowledging that fewer than 600 humans have reached space, Isaacman said he is proud to model the way for civilian space travel and to share biomedical data collected along the way. During the trip, a series of clinical tests, underwritten by virtual science research institute TRISH, will be performed and shared with the NASA Human Research Program, he added.

Perseverance

Isaacman co-founded Draken International in 2011, a firm that trains military pilots, and belongs to the Black Diamond Jet Team, an elite group of fighter jet pilots who perform at airshows. In April 2009, he set a new world record in a Speed-Around-The-World flight to raise money and awareness for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. This was particularly meaningful for Isaacman, because it supported a worthy cause and vindicated a former unsuccessful attempt.

"It is important to remember that we have only accomplished a portion of our objectives for this trip," he wrote in an open letter to Speed-Around-The-World supporters on April 20, 2009. "As pilots, it's a tremendous privilege to be able to undertake this type of adventure, but as citizens we must remember our responsibilities to charitable causes like the Make-A-Wish Foundation."

Isaacman further noted that numerous Americans faced economic hardships during the Great Recession but stressed the need to help children in good times and bad, stating nothing matters more than "granting a child's fondest wish."

Innovation, inclusion

Richard C. Shadyac Jr., president and chief CEO at ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, commended Isaacman for his consistent charitable focus.

"From the beginning, St. Jude has been at the forefront of innovation and inclusion, leading in cancer research, care and treatment for some of the world's sickest children regardless of race, ethnicity, beliefs or a family's ability to pay," Shadyac said in a statement. "This [Inspiration4] partnership brings two missions together to create one incredible moment in time that will make an impact for years to come on the global effort to cure childhood cancer."

Inspiration4's mission is especially personal for crew member Haley Arceneaux, who was treated 20 years ago at St. Jude and returned to work there as a physician's assistant wearing "a name badge instead of a wrist band," Arceneaux recounted.

For additional information about Inspiration4 and to participate in the mission's goal of raising $200 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, visit inspiration4.com/donate . end of article

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