Beer That’s Out Of This World: Billionaire Pilot Is Sending Hops Into Space For Charity

The crew of Inspiration4 underwent fighter jet training in Montana in preparation for its September space mission. Inspiration4/John Kraus

When the Inspiration4 mission launches from Kennedy Space Center on September 15, its capsule will be hauling more than just the world’s first all-civilian crew into space. It will also be carrying 70 pounds of hops.

The special cargo is the brainchild of billionaire pilot and CEO of payment processor Shift4 Payments, Jared Isaacman. He’s one of four crew members who will be aboard the vessel. The overall mission of Inspiration4 is to raise awareness about childhood cancers and other life-threatening diseases while also raising funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, based in Memphis, Tennessee.

Isaacman purchased all four seats on the Dragon spacecraft for the historic flight for an undisclosed amount from Elon Musk-owned SpaceX; he kept one seat for himself and donated the other three to St. Jude.

The crew members include:

  • Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a physician assistant at St. Jude who herself is a survivor of childhood cancer
  • Chris Sembroski, 41, a U.S. Air Force veteran and engineer at Lockheed Martin
  • Sian Proctor, 51, a geology professor at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix

As part of the Inspiration4 fundraising mission, St. Jude has been auctioning off several items, including an exclusive visit to Cape Canaveral that features a private dinner in an airplane hangar.

For Isaacman, who has donated $100 million of his own money to St. Jude, hops were another unique way to raise additional funds. Who wouldn’t want to hold the rights to a space brew?

In a Twitter post on August 12, he put a call out to breweries. “Help spread news! @inspiration4x will be flying up to 70 lbs of hops to orbit in a month. We are going to auction hops to a brewery w/ all funds to @StJude.”

And the beer world responded.

“Space hops! Far out. We’re all about taking beer to new places. We’ll take this to the brewery team,” reads a tweet from Samuel Adams’ official page.

Others like Sierra Nevada and Oregon-based Ninkasi also weighed in.

While interest seems to be mounting, it’s unclear how breweries can actually participate outside of emailing Inspiration4. St. Jude has not issued a response and no information is available on its website.

And though the all-civilian crew is unique, hops have been in space before. In 2017, Budweiser sent barley to the International Space Station to be studied in an effort to be the first beer on Mars.

Based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Meg is head of Digital Editorial Content, bringing 20 years of editorial experience in both digital and print to the Firecrown team. Follow Meg on Twitter @emdash13.

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