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The Next Astronauts Part I: A Few Ordinary People

How It Happened


Politics, News, History

4.84.6K Ratings

🗓️ 31 August 2021

⏱️ 23 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


Axios space reporter Miriam Kramer traces how a multi-day orbital mission to space without professional astronauts came together in just a matter of weeks. Kramer takes listeners back to February of 2021, to a press call where SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made a stunning announcement. She brings listeners into her conversations with billionaire benefactor and mission commander Jared Isaacman to learn how he commissioned and designed the mission. She chronicles how the other three crew members were selected — one by raffle, one by contest, and one as an ambassador for her employer — and how they felt watching the last crewed launch before their own. Credits: The Next Astronauts is reported and produced by Miriam Kramer, Amy Pedulla, Naomi Shavin, and Alice Wilder. Dan Bobkoff is Executive Producer. Mixing, sound design, and music supervision by Alex Sugiura. Theme music and original score by Michael Hanf. Fact-checking and research by Jacob Knutson. Alison Snyder is a managing editor at Axios and Sara Kehaulani Goo is Executive Editor. Special thanks to Axios co-founders Mike Allen, Jim VandeHei and Roy Schwartz.

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I first realized that inspiration for was different when I was on a call with SpaceX back in February.


That in and of itself was pretty rare. The company does not love talking to journalists, so


when they have something to say most of the time we listen.


Please keep your questions on topic of today's call.


All I knew going into this was that Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, was going to talk about human spaceflight.


Well, I think this is very exciting to make a certain aspect with the jarred about the first private crew mission on Dragon.


Private as in not NASA and not another government. Almost immediately after Elon Musk gave his initial remarks,


he handed the mic over to a guy I had never heard of.


So thank you very much Elon, thanks to SpaceX team. Thanks everyone.


His name is Jared Isaacman and then came the part that really surprised me.


No one on board Jared's mission, Inspiration 4, would be a professional astronaut. Jared is a CEO, a billionaire.


The three other crew members are regular people from around the country.


And they'll all fly to space this year.


Instead of filling it with three of his friends or co-workers, he was going to practically give away the three seats.


My friend Rob Proman was on this call too. He's a space historian and a reporter.


That seemed very bold and it just seemed like a complete something we had not heard before.


Preparing three people who have never been to space before, so you have no idea what their experience is going to be,


or whether they're going to freak out, or if they're going to have idiosyncrasies.


And it didn't help that Elon Musk's approach to it, at least in his public comments,


were, yeah, we're going to let them do what they want to do.


Jared was being treated like the customer.


Whenever Jared would like to do it, send him.


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