Billionaire Basking Ridge High Dropout is Going to Space

Leaving after his freshman year at Ridge Hight School, Jared Isaacman went on a path to be the the greatest non Ridge High School student to ever attend .

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Mr. Local History Project

Yes, a billionaire Basking Ridge High dropout is going to outer space!!!!! Do we have your attention yet? The history of Jared Isaacman dropping out of Ridge High School more than 20 years ago to pursue a successful career in business, this is not your typical dropout story.

Jared Isaacman from Allentown, Pennsylvania announced on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 that he had bought an entire Space X commercial flight called Inspiration 4 in which he and three other specially selected civilians will orbit the earth and raise money for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The Theme

Learn about how you can DONATE and be involved in Jared’s mission. Learn more.

The St. Jude’s Hospital will be the primary benefactor for Jared Isaacman’s civilian space flight. In fact, he noted that the connection to St. Jude will be a defining theme of his flight. “I’ve been very lucky in life; you really don’t get to a position that I’m fortunate enough to be in without the ball bouncing your way a couple times,” he said. “These families [at St. Jude] were dealt horrible hands. They’re going through what no one should ever have to go through. It’s immense heartache, and the sad part is many of those kids will not grow up to any of the experiences that I’ve been lucky enough to have in life. We’ve just got to do something about that.”

The Dream

Jared wasn’t what you call a “traditional high school dropout.” Jared chose to leave school. Jared says he always dreamed about going to space, and he feels fortunate to be at the helm of the Inspiration4 private mission to Earth orbit that SpaceX will launch late this year. Isaacman caught the space bug as a kid in Westfield, New Jersey, a state home to astronauts ranging from moonwalker Buzz Aldrin to the twin space station astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly. He recalls being in kindergarten at Wilson Elementary School looking at high-resolution picture books of the space shuttle.

Dreams of becoming an astronaut have been with Jared since kindergarten. (Not Jared here 🙂 )

Isaacman caught the space bug as a kid in Westfield, New Jersey, a state home to astronauts ranging from moonwalker Buzz Aldrin to the twin space station astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly. He recalls being in kindergarten at Wilson Elementary School looking at high-resolution picture books of the space shuttle. 

“I remember being in the school library at Wilson Elementary School in Westfield, New Jersey, looking at books of the space shuttle. I remember telling my kindergarten teacher that someday I’m going to space and she told me she’d be watching from her rocking chair.”

Jared Isaacman
Star Wars X Wing

 “Who hasn’t imagined themselves cruising around in Star Wars X-wing?” Isaacman said, referring to a famous “Star Wars” ship piloted by hero Luke Skywalker, among others. “I do believe that that’s a world that we’re all going to live in at some point, but it might be a little bit down the road.”

The Team

When Isaacman got the chance to buy four seats aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule for the Inspiration4 mission, he decided to be “really thoughtful” about picking the three people who would go with him. Recently, it was announced that Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, would join him. Arceneaux is a childhood survivor of bone cancer and was treated at St. Jude when she was 10 years old.

Inspiration4: Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Christopher Sembroski. The lucky recipients? Hayley Arceneaux, a former patient of St. Jude, who now works as a physician assistant, Sian Proctor, 51, a community college professor from Tempe, Ariz., and Christopher Sembroski, 41, of Everett, Wash., who works on data engineering for Lockheed Martin. Credit…Source: SpaceX

Mr. Isaacman and his passengers will be the first to orbit the planet without the presence of a professional astronaut from NASA or other space agency. There are no more empty seats on Inspiration4, but there are still plenty of ways to get involved. As they count down to this historic mission, be part of the excitement, and help us meet our fundraising goal.

Two seats were made available through separate contests on the Inspiration4 website. One seat, named for “Generosity,” was awarded from a draw from people who donated to St. Jude. The second seat, “Prosperity,” was awarded from a set of entrepreneurs showcasing their business ideas on the Shift4Shop ecommerce platform; Isaacman is CEO of Shift4Shop. Dr. Sian Proctor, who is African-American and holds a doctorate in science education, got on board by winning that contest.

Christopher Sembroski said he thought he donated $50, but he did not win the sweepstakes, which helped raise $13 million for St. Jude. A friend, though, ending up winning — an old college buddy from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. The friend, who remains anonymous, decided not to go to space but, knowing about Mr. Sembroski’s enthusiasm, transferred the prize to him.

Isaacman will bring his own crew into the mountains. “It will get us all super uncomfortable and [in] close quarters and hopefully in snowy conditions, because I definitely want to make sure we all get along really well under those circumstances here on Earth before we go off in space together,” he said.

The Flight

Isaacman said he’s proud to fly on a SpaceX Crew Dragon for this mission, because he believes Elon Musk’s company “reinvigorated the world’s interest in space” following the end of the space shuttle program in 2011. The shuttle ferried hundreds of astronauts to space between 1981 and its 2011 retirement. After that, the next crewed mission to Earth orbit that launched from the United States was SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission in May 2020.

Here’s the actual dragon capsule on top of the SpaceX rocket.

The capsule and its occupants will circle Earth at an altitude of 335 miles, about 80 miles higher than the orbit of the International Space Station. The launch date, originally planned for October, may be as soon as Sept. 15,

Jared Isaacman Tidbits:

“I want there to be an awful lot of other kindergarteners who grow up and want to go and become astronauts, except that I’d like them to have a really good chance of [that] being able to happen.”

Jared Isaacman
  • Jared Isaacman was born on born February 11, 1983 to Douglas and Sandra Marie
  • Lived on the north side and attended Wilson School in Westfield, New Jersey.
  • They moved from Westfield to the Liberty Corner section of Bernards Township.
  • Attended William Annin Middle School (6-8th grade). ( 11-13)
  • As a ninth grader and a freshman at Ridge High School (14), Isaacman discovered that he and his best friend, Brendan Lauber, had a knack for fixing computers and started a computer repair business in his parents basement called Deco Systems, offering services to hapless computer users. He also worked at CompUSA.
Jared was a freshman at Ridge High School while Monica Chacana (future wife) and Brendan Lauber (best friend) were sophomores.
Source: RHS Yearbook 1998.
  • Attended William Annin Middle School.
  • Started Ridge High School in 1998. Dropped out of high school, took the GED.
  • Jared left school and went to work as Merchant Services International (MSI), for CEO, Mario Parisi, as MSI’s in-house IT expert.
  • Jared got his precious bank identification number. Everything was in place to blaze a trail in the payments industry as he created United Bank Card, Inc., which eventually was renamed Harbortouch.
  • Attended Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.
  • Jared founded a retail payment processing company, Shift4 Payments, in 1999 from his parents’ basement. Shfit4 Payments is like PayPal, in that it provides a secure payment processing portal. That company handles more than $200 billion in payments every year for a third of the country’s restaurants and hotels, including the Hilton, Four Seasons, as well fast-food chains like KFC and Arby’s, according to Forbes.
  • 2004, Jared began taking flying lessons
  • In 2005, founded a retail payment processing company named United Bank Card, which was later renamed Harbortouch, a point-of-sale payment company based in Pennsylvania.
  • In 2008, he tried to set the world record for circumnavigating the globe in a light jet, falling just short, by travelling around the world in 83 hours, just beyond the existing record of 82 hours.
  • April 2009, he got his world record for circumnavigating the globe in a light jet, making the flight in 61:51:15, about 20 hours faster than the previous record of 82 hours.
  • 2012 – Monica Chacana Isaacman – Met at William Annin Middle school – Married in 2012 at the age of 29.
  • 2012 – Co-founded Draken International, a Florida-based company that trains pilots for the United States Armed Forces. The company owns around 70 fighter jets, which is considered the largest private air force.
  • February 2021, Jared announced that he would serve as commander of Inspiration4, the first private human spaceflight.
  • It will be the first trip by any private citizen to outer space.
  • The spacecraft will orbit the Earth, a journey which should take between two and four days before the civilian crew makes it back to solid ground. In that time, the crew onboard will get to enjoy the view of the Earth from a few hundred miles above the surface, and hopefully, enjoy more scintillating conversation than you might be stuck with on a typical long-haul flight.
  • Isaacman will use the flight to space to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
  • Half of that amount will be donated by Isaacman himself!
  • Lastly, did we mention, Jared is worth an estimated $2 billion.
Jared and Monica and their family.

One Thought to “Billionaire Basking Ridge High Dropout is Going to Space”

  1. Cameron Hall

    Great story. Very inspirational for sure.
    Good journey and may the force be with you

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