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Photo: Inspiration4/John Kraus

The Inspiration4 crew is set to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Wednesday evening. The first all-civilian flight to orbit will act as a proof of concept for SpaceX and the broader private spaceflight industry, which wants to send many more people to space in the coming years and decades.

The latest: SpaceX has completed fueling the Falcon 9 rocket. The launch, streamed live via SpaceX, remains on schedule for liftoff at 8:02 p.m. ET.

  • The crew members, who have had about six months of training and preparation, were strapped into their seats inside the Dragon capsule around 5:20pm ET.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

What to watch: The four crew members will spend three days in orbit, flying higher than the International Space Station and giving the cupola — a brand new, huge bubble window from SpaceX — a test drive.

  • They'll fly to space in a SpaceX Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

Background: Billionaire Jared Isaacman is the brainchild of this mission and the commander of the flight.

  • He originally contacted SpaceX in 2020 to see if he could invest in the company, but he'd just missed a funding round and then offhandedly made a joke about wanting to be a customer — as in fly to space — one day.
  • That day is coming sooner than he expected. The person he was speaking with at SpaceX got him in touch with the human spaceflight program, and they came up with the idea for Inspiration4.
  • Sian Proctor, the mission's pilot, was picked via a reality TV-style competition for entrepreneurs. Chris Sembroski was chosen via a raffle, and Hayley Arceneaux got her seat through her employer, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is also benefiting from a fundraiser associated with the mission.

What's next: After their three days in orbit, the crew will splash down somewhere off the Florida coast within their Dragon capsule.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Editor's note: This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Dec 6, 2021 - Science

Meet NASA's newest class of astronauts

The new astronauts. Photo: NASA

A SpaceX flight surgeon and an elite track cyclist are among the new class of 10 astronaut candidates, NASA announced on Monday.

Why it matters: "These NASA astronauts will plan, train and fly missions to the International Space Station and to the Moon under Artemis, and eventually onto Mars," Vanessa Wyche, the director of NASA's Johnson Space Center, said during an event announcing the new astronaut candidates.

Oath Keepers leader denied bail on Capitol riot sedition charge

Oath Keepers co-founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

A federal judge ordered Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes to remain jailed Wednesday until trial on charges stemming from the Capitol riot.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson e in the t figure charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection had access to weapons and his alleged "continued advocacy for violence against the federal government" gave credence to prosecutors' view that, if released, Rhodes could endanger others.

Who in Congress is talking about Ukraine the most

Data: Quorum; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Mentions of Ukraine or Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in congressional statements and social media posts have been on the rise — with nearly 1,000 already this month, according to data from Quorum.

Why it matters: The growing threat of a Russian invasion has been mirrored by a growth in Ukraine-related chatter.