Going to space is a remarkable achievement. Getting up there and deciding to get outside of the construction keeping you alive is another entirely. Soon, private citizens might join the ranks of those who have conducted a spacewalk. This is Polaris Dawn, a SpaceX-powered mission that will include the first commercial spacewalk.
The event could take place as soon as December this year. It’ll be a world first — four private citizens launched into space, at least some of whom will get out of the capsule they’re in. It forms part of the Polaris Program, a privately-funded expedition looking to advance human spaceflight.
Polaris Dawn of a new era
Amazing few days @EAA Oshkosh w/@PolarisProgram. High performance & high consequence flying is part of our training..plus max fun🤙. Thankful for a great team that pulled this together. Till next year pic.twitter.com/ndKdcFJ6IU
— Jared Isaacman (@rookisaacman) July 31, 2022
Polaris Dawn will see four astronauts heading to space. One of these is a familiar face — Jared Isaacman, the funder and one of the passengers on the SpaceX Inspiration4 flight. Jared really enjoyed the experience, it seems, and is heading back out there. And it’ll happen soon. At a recent airshow, Isaacman offered an approximate timeline for the mission.
“We’re looking at the end of the year right now so, so likely December,” he said.
Accompanying Isaacman are three people – Anna Menon, Scott Poteet, and Sarah Gillis. Menon is a former NASA and current SpaceX engineer. Poteet is a retired US Air Force Pilot, and Gillis is an engineer. They’ll all have their work cut out for them. The five-day mission includes some 35 different experiments.
Plus there’s the whole ‘get outside of the Crew Dragon’ thing to worry about. Most spacewalks have taken place on space stations or the space shuttle. Exiting a capsule is something altogether new. In order for the group to conduct the Polaris Dawn mission, several upgrades have to be made to the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. Life support must be improved. The whole capsule will be depressurised and then repressurised as its crew leaves safety for the spacewalk.
The space suits being used also need attention. “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,” said Menon.