Together, we can make cures possible for every child.
The Polaris Program is a first-of-its-kind effort to rapidly advance human spaceflight capabilities while continue to raise funds and awareness for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.® Polaris Dawn is the first of three Polaris missions and is scheduled to launch this year.
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The Polaris Dawn mission is scheduled to launch in the spring of 2023. The crew expects to perform a range of scientific experiments, including measuring radiation in the Van Allen Belt, the effect of space travel on human health and laser and satellite communication. All while raising support for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Polaris Dawn takes the St. Jude mission back to space. Jared Isaacman is the commander of the mission, just as he led Inspiration4 in 2021 raising more than $250 million for St. Jude.
Jared "Rook" Isaacman: mission commander, philanthropist and St. Jude partner. He is an entrepreneur, accomplished pilot and commercial astronaut. He is the founder and CEO of Draken International, a private air force provider, and Shift4 Payments, a payment processing company. Jared Isaacman says: “Fifty or 100 years from now, people are going to be jumping in their rockets and you’re going to have families bouncing around on the moon with their kids at a lunar base. If we can accomplish all of that, we sure as heck better tackle childhood cancer along the way.”
St. Jude patient Coraliz dreams of taking her dog Casper into space. "He loves being outside and exploring new things so he would absolutely love being in space. Maybe he will discover new treats while he's up there," she says. The possibilities for Coraliz are boundless because doctors at St. Jude successfully treated her for osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Coraliz required surgery to remove the affected bone, chemotherapy to kill the remaining cancer and physical therapy to help her regain strength and mobility in her leg.Art inspired by St. Jude patient Coraliz.
435 miles (700 kilometers) above the Earth
The approximate height the crew will attempt to reach. They will also endeavor to conduct the first-ever commercial spacewalk.
Falcon 9 is a reusable, two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond. The rocket is the world’s first orbital class reusable rocket which allows the most expensive parts of the rocket to refly, which in turn drives down the cost of space access.
3 for 3
The Polaris Program is named after the constellation of three stars known commonly as the North Star. The three planned missions – representing the three stars – with Polaris Dawn being the first.
Training to go to space is not easy. The crew members have spent the past year bonding and training, which included scuba diving off the coast of California, hiking the Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador and running in various events at the St. Jude Memphis Marathon® Weekend.
Jared Isaacman ran his first full marathon for St. Jude. He didn’t run for time. “My goal was to finish,” he said with a laugh. He ran all 26.2 miles alongside his friend and Polaris Dawn crewmate Scott “Kidd” Poteet, who is a veteran Ironman triathlete and encouraged and coached Isaacman.
The crew spent last year bonding and training, which included running in various events at the St. Jude Memphis Marathon® Weekend.
Pilot Scott "Kidd" Poteet: Spent 20 years in the Air Force flying F-16 fighter jets. He grew up in the 1980s when the original Top Gun movie premiered, which sparked a fascination with flight in him. “But I never thought I had the aptitude to become one of those elite astronauts, so I had 20 years in the Air Force and thought that was the end of it,” he said. “But you know, things happen for a reason. I’m going to make every moment count.”
The Dragon spacecraft is capable of carrying up to 7 passengers to and from Earth orbit, and beyond. It is the only spacecraft currently flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth, and is the first private spacecraft to take humans to the space station.
The approximate number of scientific experiments the crew will conduct while in space.
Mission Specialist Sarah “Cooper” Gillis: Trained as an aerospace engineer, became a lead space operations engineer at SpaceX and has been responsible for overseeing the astronaut training program for human spaceflight missions. “There are little girls that might not have ever imagined themselves doing something like going into space,” Gillis said. “I hope I’m a role model to many little girls who are looking up at the stars.”
The year an American orbited the Earth for the first time and St. Jude opened its doors in Memphis, Tennessee.
Ty turned to art when he was treated for retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye, at St. Jude. Doctors had to remove his right eye to save him and he needed five rounds of chemotherapy to ensure the cancer was all gone. Through it all, the inpatient visits and checkups and chemo, Ty turned to art for comfort. When there was pain, nausea, pressure, it didn't faze him as long as he had a canvas and paint nearby. Cancer is now in his past, but art has remained a big part of his life.Art by St. Jude patient Ty.
Read Ty's story
Mission Specialist and Medical Officer Anna “Walker” Menon: Remembers wanting to be an astronaut ever since a field trip she took to the NASA Johnson Space Center when she was 9 years old. She is a Mission Director at SpaceX, where she manages the development of crew operations and serves in mission control. "I have two children of my own, so it's critically important to me that we not just further technology and innovation as we seek to understand the stars better, but to also help out on Earth while doing so," Menon said of Polaris Dawn's dual mission to improve space travel while supporting St. Jude.
Art plays a big role in the St. Jude patient experience. Expression through art is often used to reduce stress or anxiety, explore complex feelings, manage side effects and improve quality of life of our patients. Patient art is also used by ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude, to raise awareness and support.Art inspired by St. Jude patients.
The last time astronauts flew this high into orbit. In the same year, St. Jude announced research improving leukemia survival from nearly zero to 50 percent.
Polaris Dawn crew will spend up to five days in orbit, flying higher than any Dragon mission to date and endeavoring to reach the highest Earth orbit ever flown.
Historically, a rocket is flown only once. While the majority of the cost of launch comes from building the rocket, most rockets are designed to burn up on reentry. SpaceX rockets can not only withstand reentry but can also successfully land back on Earth and be reused.
10x speed of sound
Traveling speed when Falcon 9 is 50 miles (80 kilometers) high and the first-stage engines are shut down, known as main-engine cutoff.
The Polaris Dawn crew will attempt the first-ever commercial spacewalk with SpaceX-designed spacesuits that allow exploration outside of the capsule. If the crew show that these suits perform to expectations, it would allow future endeavors like building a base on the moon or a city on Mars.
Pounds of thrust generated by the nine Merlin engines of the Falcon 9 rocket at sea level.
Time it takes Falcon 9 to reach supersonic speed after liftoff.
Art inspired by St. Jude patient Ty
Updated: January 13, 2023