BOZEMAN — The SpaceX crew of the astronaut team “Polaris Dawn” are training at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport for a space mission. Commander Jared Isaacman said what they're about to do has never been done before.
“There really are no bad days when you're training to go to space,” said Isaacman.
"Polaris Dawn" is the first of three missions for a commercial space program called the Polaris Program. During the five-day orbit, the crew will be blazing a trail, testing new technologies.
“Practicing things that haven’t been done in close to 50 years,” said Isaacman. “We'll be going farther into space than the last time someone walked on the moon. It will be the highest earth orbit ever flown.”
Isaccman said the training that goes into a space mission can be extremely tedious.
“The academic portion where you spend a lot of time in manuals and PowerPoint is, um—it comes with some challenges,” said Isaacman.
The mission pilot for Polaris Dawn, Scott Poteet, said the crew is finally in their third phase of training, which is focused on teamwork.
“That's why we're here at Bozeman, is to fly some fighter jets,” said Poteet.
Poteet says the fighter jet experience is a great way for the crew to work together and go through checklist procedures.
“It's a pretty risky operation to fly fighter jets and this is a good analogue for space travel,” said Poteet.
The rocket launch for the mission will take place in early 2023. Isaacman says the research they will do on their mission is kind of like the building blocks leading up to getting humans back to the moon and eventually, to Mars.
“Going high? Yeah, we're thrilled to be able to undertake that effort,” said Isaacman. “But it's about learning the spacecraft design, it's human physiology, and what that radiation does to the human body because if we're going to get back to the moon and Mars, we have to go through the Van Allen Belt.”
The crew will be traveling on another Falcon 9 rocket but hope in the future to board a brand-new rocket called "Starship" that might make this possible someday.
“When Starship is complete and we have flown that, you've got a vehicle now that can bring 100 people up into space,” said Isaacman. “They’re making thousands of them so you're talking about the 737 of spacecraft.”
Isaacman said the progress we're making when it comes to space travel is exciting.
“We can make amazing progress for tomorrow, like the exciting Star Wars world we want to live in someday,” said Isaacman. “The entire experience is really incredible.”
The Polaris Dawn crew will be training at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport until Sept. 18.
(NOTE) A previous version of this story implied the crew would be flying in the Starship rocket, that is incorrect.