SpaceX launches 4 amateurs on private Earth-circling trip

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It was the first time a rocket streaked toward orbit with an all-amateur crew — no professional astronauts.
SpaceX's first private flight blasted off Wednesday, September 15 night with two contest winners, a health care worker and their rich sponsor, the most ambitious leap yet in space tourism.

It was the first time a rocket streaked toward orbit with an all-amateur crew — no professional astronauts.

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The Dragon capsule's two men and two women are looking to spend three days circling the world from an unusually high orbit — 160 km higher than the International Space Station — before splashing down off the Florida coast this weekend.

Leading the flight is Jared Isaacman, 38, who made his fortune with a payment-processing company he started in his teens.

It's SpaceX founder Elon Musk's first entry in the competition for space tourism dollars. Isaacman is the third billionaire to launch this summer, following the brief space-skimming flights by Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson and Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos in July.

Joining Isaacman on the trip dubbed Inspiration4 is Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a childhood cancer survivor who works as a physician assistant where she was treated — St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Isaacman has pledged $100 million out of his own pocket to the hospital and is seeking another $100 million in donations.

Also along for the ride: sweepstakes winners Chris Sembroski, 42, a data engineer in Everett, Washington, and Sian Proctor, 51, a community college educator in Tempe, Arizona.

Arceneaux is set to become the youngest American in space and the first person in space with a prosthesis, a titanium rod in her left leg.

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