Polaris Dawn Mission
In early 2024, SpaceX is set to launch the Polaris Dawn mission using its Falcon 9 rocket from the historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Dragon spacecraft, carrying the Polaris Dawn crew, will embark on a groundbreaking mission lasting up to five days. The objectives of this mission are ambitious and include flying at unprecedented altitudes, conducting the first-ever commercial extravehicular activity (EVA) at 700 kilometers above Earth, and advancing health research in space. The Polaris Dawn mission brings together four passionate individuals with expertise in space exploration, driving advancements that will shape the future of human space exploration. During this phase, the crew will conduct research to enhance our understanding of the impact of spaceflight and radiation on human health. A key highlight is the attempt to perform the first commercial EVA using SpaceX-designed spacesuits, marking a crucial step in developing scalable spacesuit designs for future long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars.
The Polaris Dawn mission will push the boundaries of space exploration by flying higher than any previous Dragon mission, venturing into portions of the Van Allen radiation belt. While in orbit, the crew will engage in health impact research aimed at benefiting both human health on Earth and our understanding of health during extended spaceflights. This includes using ultrasound to monitor venous gas emboli, collecting data on space radiation’s effects on human biological systems, contributing to a long-term Biobank through multi-omics analyses, and researching Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS). SpaceX’s collaboration with various institutions further strengthens the mission’s scientific impact, involving expertise from organizations such as the Translational Research Institute for Space Health, BioServe Space Technologies, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and more.