The all-private Polaris Dawn mission publicly shared its support for Ukraine as the nation continues to endure attacks from Russia.
The crewed Polaris Dawn, led by Inspiration4 founder and tech billionaire Jared Isaacman, will fly a Ukrainian flag to Earth orbit, mission team members announced Monday (March 7). Polaris Dawn will be the debut mission of the Polaris Program, which so far includes three flights on SpaceX vehicles.
"We stand with Ukraine and its brave citizens and all those fighting for freedom across the world. The Polaris Dawn crew will take this flag to a place in space that still remains beyond the reach of tyranny," program officials wrote in a Twitter statement (opens in new tab).
Ukraine was invaded by Russia on Feb. 24, 2022. The U.S. government as well as international allies responded with wide-ranging sanctions on Russia. The political fallout from this war has also made it way into space. Numerous space partnerships have frayed following the unprovoked invasion and attacks, although NASA maintains that the International Space Station program, which includes both NASA and Russia's space agency Roscosmos along with other partners, is still proceeding as usual.
Isaacman, who made his fortune as the founder and CEO of payment processing company Shift4, will command the Polaris Dawn mission to Earth orbit. The mission includes three other crewmembers, who are highly experienced in aviation and spaceflight operations as well: Scott Poteet, Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon.
Polaris Dawn will fly aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, with mission goals including completing the first-ever commercial spacewalk, testing Starlink laser-based communications in space and performing science experiments.
Isaacman then plans to fly aboard several more missions as part of the Polaris Program, which aims both to fly human spaceflight missions and to fund charitable causes on Earth. His previous venture, Inspiration4, saw four civilians fly in space for several days in September 2021 while raising hundreds of millions of dollars for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, a cause that the Polaris Program will also support.