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Polaris Dawn

Dragon EVA earth

About the mission

No earlier than summer 2024, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Polaris Dawn mission from historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon and the Polaris Dawn crew will spend up to five days in orbit, during which they will work towards the following objectives:

High Altitude

This Dragon mission will take advantage of Falcon 9 and Dragon’s maximum performance, flying higher than any Dragon mission to date and endeavoring to reach the highest Earth orbit ever flown. Orbiting through portions of the Van Allen radiation belt, Polaris Dawn will conduct research with the aim of better understanding the effects of spaceflight and space radiation on human health.

First Commercial Spacewalk

At approximately 700 kilometers above the Earth, the crew will attempt the first-ever commercial extravehicular activity (EVA) with SpaceX-designed extravehicular activity (EVA) spacesuits, upgraded from the current intravehicular (IVA) suit. Building a base on the Moon and a city on Mars will require thousands of spacesuits; the development of this suit and the execution of the EVA will be important steps toward a scalable design for spacesuits on future long-duration missions.

Health Impact Research

While in orbit, the crew will conduct scientific research designed to advance both human health on Earth and our understanding of human health during future long-duration spaceflights. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Using ultrasound to monitor, detect, and quantify venous gas emboli (VGE), contributing to studies on human prevalence to decompression sickness;
  • Gathering data on the radiation environment to better understand how space radiation affects human biological systems;
  • Providing biological samples towards multi-omics analyses for a long-term Biobank; and
  • Research related to Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS), which is a key risk to human health in long-duration spaceflight.

SpaceX and Polaris Dawn will also collaborate with the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH), BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado Boulder, Space Technologies Lab at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Weill Cornell Medicine, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

In-Space Communications

The Polaris Dawn crew will be the first crew to test Starlink laser-based communications in space, providing valuable data for future space communications system necessary for missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Jared Isaacman

Jared Isaacman

Mission Commander

Jared Isaacman is the CEO of Shift4 (NYSE: FOUR), the leader in integrated payment processing solutions. He is an accomplished pilot & astronaut with over 7,000 flight hours of aviation experience, including ratings in multiple experimental and ex-military aircraft.  He was the commander of Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission to space that helped raise over $240 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® to help eradicate childhood cancer.

Jared also holds several world records including two speed-around-the-world flights in 2008 and 2009 that raised money and awareness for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. He has flown in over 100 airshows as part of the Black Diamond Jet Team, dedicating every performance to charitable causes. In 2011, Isaacman co-founded what would become the world’s largest private air force, Draken International, to train pilots for the United States Armed Forces.

Scott Poteet

Mission Pilot

Scott “Kidd” Poteet is a retired United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who served 20 years in various roles that include Commander of the 64th Aggressor Squadron, USAF Thunderbird #4 Demonstration Pilot, USAF Weapons School Graduate, Operational Test & Evaluation Pilot, and Flight Examiner. Kidd is a command pilot with over 3,200 flying hours in the F-16, A-4, T-38, T-37, T-3, and Alpha Jet. Kidd has logged over 400 hours of combat time during Operations Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Joint Guardian, Freedom’s Sentinel, and Resolute Support.

Following his Air Force career, Kidd served in various roles to include Director of Business Development at Draken International and VP of Strategy at Shift4 (NYSE: FOUR). He most recently served as the Mission Director of Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission to space that helped raise over $240 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® in an effort to help eradicate childhood cancer. Kidd is also an accomplished collegiate runner and triathlete, competing in 15 Ironman triathlons since 2000, which includes four Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Sarah Gillis

Sarah Gillis

Mission Specialist

Sarah Gillis is a Lead Space Operations Engineer at SpaceX, responsible for overseeing the company’s astronaut training program. This includes the development of mission-specific curriculum and training execution for both NASA and commercial astronauts who fly aboard the Dragon spacecraft. She prepared NASA astronauts for the first Demo-2 and Crew-1 missions, and most recently directly trained the Inspiration4 astronauts, the first all-civilian crew to go to orbit. Sarah is an experienced mission control operator, who has supported real-time operations for Dragon’s cargo resupply missions to and from the International Space Station as a Navigation Officer, and as a crew communicator for Dragon’s human spaceflight missions.

Raised from a young age to be a classical violinist, Sarah changed directions when a beloved high-school mentor, former NASA astronaut Joe Tanner, encouraged her to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering. In 2015, while studying engineering and dance at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Sarah started an internship at SpaceX, working on human-in-the-loop testing of the Dragon spacecraft interior before moving into the astronaut training program full-time. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, Sarah is an avid hiker, climber, and adventurer, all of which let her enjoy one of her favorite things – a cup of hot coffee while camping in the wilderness.

Anna Menon

Anna Menon

Mission Specialist & Medical Officer

Anna Menon is a Lead Space Operations Engineer at SpaceX, where she manages the development of crew operations and serves in mission control as both a Mission Director and crew communicator. During her tenure at SpaceX, she has led the implementation of Dragon’s crew capabilities, helped create the crew communicator operator role, and developed critical operational responses to vehicle emergencies such as a fire or cabin depressurization. Anna served in mission control during multiple Dragon missions, such as Demo-2, Crew-1, CRS-22, CRS-23, Crew-3, Crew-4, and Axiom-1.

Prior to SpaceX, Anna worked for seven years at NASA as a biomedical flight controller for the International Space Station. In this role, she supported space station crews from mission control, helped integrate international partner engineers and medical care, and led the planning and execution of all biomedical operations for Expedition 47/48. She received her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Spanish from Texas Christian University and her master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University. Service and applying her engineering background to helping others is important to Anna. Immediately after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, she supported the World Health Organization water and sanitation response and has also volunteered with the Engineers Without Borders and Engineering World Health organizations. Her dream of flying to space began in fourth grade when her teacher Alison Smith Balch (daughter of Space Shuttle Challenger pilot Michael J. Smith) took her on an immersive field trip at NASA. In addition to pursuing her lifelong passion for space, Anna enjoys hiking, flying small airplanes, and salsa dancing, and her greatest love is her wonderful family, including husband Anil, son James, and daughter Grace.