Upcoming SpaceX Launch Inspires with First Civilian Crew

by mcardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM NEWS


An upcoming SpaceX flight will be a significant first in space history as it is crewed by a civilian team. The historic mission, appropriately titled Inspiration4, will launch within a 24-hour window that begins on Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. EST.

Inspiration4 is planned to embark on a three-day flight that will ultimately end somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. The crew, lead by Jared Isaacman, will launch from NASA Pad 39A in a Crew Dragon ship attached to the Falcon 9 Rocket.

Isaacman, the billionaire entrepreneur behind Shift4 Payments, is the leader of this astro-tourism mission. While he purchased all four tickets, his crewmates were all once strangers to him. He built his team to represent different characteristics. These other seats were designated Prosperity, Hope, and Generosity.

Isaacman is also using Inspiration4 to raise $200,000 for Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Isaacman told NBC News, “We’ve got to deal with a real problem today and solving childhood cancer is at the top of my list.”

This connection gained Hayley Arceneaux, a physicians assistant at St. Jude Hospital, the Hope seat and role of crew medical officer. However, Arceneaux represents hope in another way. She is a former child cancer patient at St. Jude Hospital and, because of this, will be the first person in space with a prosthetic limb. Arceneaux told NBC, “When we’re opening the door up for space travel we are truly opening it up for those like myself who are not physically perfect.”

“It’s about opening up access to space so that more can follow and have this experience but also bring humanity forward,” Sian Proctor, the team’s pilot, told space.com. “While we’re solving for space we’re solving for earth.”

Proctor holds the Prosperity seat, which she won through her artwork business, Space2Inspire.

Chris Sembroski, data engineer and former U.S. Space Camp counselor, finishes out the crew in the Generosity seat. His friend originally won this seat through a fundraising campaign.

The crew of Inspration4 has trained for the past five months to prepare for this flight. Isaacman said, “There’s so much responsibility that comes with being the first, and Inspiration4 is a big first in a number of respects. SpaceX is not going to put us up into orbital flight unprepared.”

The crew spent five months in training with the first two weeks focused heavily on academics. Isaacman explained, “We had to learn a lot of things, but once you get through and digest all the information you get to the fun part where you get to apply it to simulations.”

They practiced partial and full mission simulations, went through stress testing, and had to learn things like orbital mechanics.

The crew plans to each take items into space with them that will later be auctioned for charity, including artwork provided by St. Jude patients. Netflix is also filming in preparation to release a micro-documentary on this flight at a later point in time.

The launch time of Inspiration4 will be narrowed down to a more specific window within the next few days.