Meet Jared Isaacman: the man who bought the first crewed flight on SpaceX’s Starship

Why is the American billionaire spending a fortune on rides to space?

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American billionaire Jared Isaacman is taking the commercial space industry to new heights.

The 39 year old has already been to space, when he bought an entire passenger flight from Elon Musk's SpaceX as part of the Inspiration4 mission, which orbited Earth for three days.

Now, he has bought three more flights from SpaceX under his new Polaris programme, with the first one scheduled for launch later this year, for an undisclosed sum.

(L-R) Tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman with the Polaris Dawn crew, Anna Menon, Sarah Gillis and Scott Poteet. AP

The Crew Dragon flight aims to set new records, such as reaching the highest orbit in commercial spaceflight and carrying out the first spacewalk by a private citizen.

The second flight could take place as soon as next year, while the third would be on the Starship, the world’s largest and most powerful rocket. However, Starship has yet to complete a flight without crew to orbit.

With Mr Isaacman spending millions on spaceflight, The National explains who this billionaire is and why he is spending a fortune on travelling to space.

How did he make his fortune?

Mr Isaacman dropped out of school at the age of 16 to run a technology company from his parent’s basement.

He founded the United Bank Card company, which helped small businesses process payments.

By 2018, he was the owner of several financial services companies, which offered customers point-of-sale software.

Now, he runs Shift4, one of the largest payment technology companies in the world that handles more than $200 billion every year.

His net worth in 2020 was at $1.4bn, Forbes said.

Thrill-seeker

Aside from his business ventures, Mr Isaacman is also interested aviation.

At 28, he founded Draken International, which operates a fleet of 80 retired military fighter jets and provides aviation training for the US military and others around the world.

He sold it to the Blackstone Group in 2019 for tens of millions of dollars.

In 2004, he started taking flying lessons. By 2009, he had set a world record for circumnavigating the globe in a light jet.

For many years, Mr Isaacman also trained fighter jet pilots and made a small fortune from doing so.

Reaching new heights

But, as a space geek since childhood, Mr Isaacman wanted to go further than an aircraft pilot could.

So, in 2021, he bought an entire passenger flight from SpaceX and took three others with him on the world’s first all-civilian spaceflight to orbit.

The mission raised more than $243 million for St. Jude’s Children's Research Hospital.

His new adventure, the Polaris programme, was announced this week. The first flight, called Polaris Dawn, will feature Mr Isaacman as the commander with three passengers, who will spend five days in orbit.

Updated: February 17, 2022, 8:37 AM
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