SpaceX Polaris Dawn is planning its first crewed launch in December

The astronauts on board will perform a spacewalk that will be both the first from a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the first for a private mission.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Polaris Dawn.jpg
Polaris Dawn crew members doing high-performance jet training.Jared Isaacman/ Twitter
  • The mission is led by billionaire Jared Isaacman.
  • There will be a total of four people on board.
  • They will attempt a historic spacewalk.

Back in May, we brought you the news that SpaceX was training astronauts for the world's first commercial spacewalk. The mission was called Polaris Dawn, and it was set to be revolutionary.

The launch date is set for December

Now, reports are surfacing that the program is planning its first crewed launch on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft in December, according to SpaceNews. The event will include the first spacewalk on a private mission.

The crew on the mission will consist of Jared Isaacman and three others, and the trip will last five days. You may remember Isaacman as the billionaire who organized the Inspiration4 private astronaut mission that spent three days in orbit in September 2021.

Speaking at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on July 29, Isaacman revealed the mission would likely fly late this year. “We’re looking at the end of the year right now so, so likely December.”

What does Isaancman hope to achieve on this historic mission?

To date, government agencies have always carried out every spacewalk. The vast majority have taken place outside the International Space Station and are conducted by astronauts and cosmonauts from NASA, Roscosmos, the European Space Agency, and Japan's space agency, JAXA.

Achieving a record-high orbital altitude

The Polaris Dawn team aims to break this mold by carrying out its spacewalk from a relatively tiny SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule orbiting Earth. The crew will then go on to reach a record-high orbital altitude.

“There’s a ton of new development that’s happening to support that,” said Anna Menon of SpaceX, another member of the Polaris Dawn crew.

To achieve this lofty goal, the team will have to implement upgrades to the life support systems on the Crew Dragon spacecraft. “The suit development that is occurring for this mission is really going to help us learn, and we’ll be able to build on this as we go to the moon and ultimately go to Mars,” Menon added.

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“This is a development program, and as part of that, this is an entirely new training program that we’re developing,” said Sarah Gillis, another SpaceX employee who is also part of the mission. “I think we’re going to learn a lot along the way.”

In addition, the team aims to fly Crew Dragon in an orbit with an apogee of 1,400 kilometers, the highest for a crewed mission in Earth orbit, and to trial communications with SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation.

Whatever happens, one thing is for sure Polaris Dawn will be a learning experience. “To get there, we’re going to try to learn an awful lot along the way,” Isaacman concluded.