SpaceX’s Inspiration4: The First All-Civilian Crew to Orbit the Earth

Jun Kwon M. Shin||

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Elon Musk and his aerospace company, SpaceX, takes another leap for mankind with the success of the first all-civilian space flight mission, Inspiration4.

On September 15 at 8:02 p.m. EDT, SpaceX successfully launched its Crew Dragon spacecraft. Aboard the spacecraft are four amateur astronauts. With this achievement, the company has yet again made history by successfully sending the first all-civilian crew into orbit. That is to say, they are the first crew to orbit the Earth without any professional astronauts to guide them on board.

The mission commander of Inspiration4 is Jared Isaacman, the 38-year-old billionaire founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments— a payment processing company. He also bought all four seats for Inspiration4, donating three of the seats to raise awareness and fund St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a research and treatment center for children with cancer and other pediatric diseases, such as leukemia.

One such patient is Hayley Arceneaux, who, at the young age of 10, was diagnosed with bone cancer but made a full recovery after receiving treatment from the hospital. Arceneaux is now a healthy 29-year-old who works as a physician assistant at this hospital, and one of the three ‘civilians’ to join Mr. Isaacman in the spaceflight mission.

The other two ‘civilians’ to join the mission are Christopher Sembroski and Dr. Sian Proctor. Sembroski is a 42-year-old US Air Force veteran and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University alumnus who works as a data engineer for aerospace company Lockheed Martin. Dr. Sian Proctor, 51, is the eldest member of the crew, and an African American geoscientist and professor who teaches at South Mountain Community College, Phoenix, Arizona.

The Inspiration4 crew prepared and trained for the spaceflight mission for about six months. During this period, the crew members would pore over important guidelines and complete simulation tests. 

In an interview with NBC, where the crew was asked whether they were scared for the spaceflight, Mr. Sembroski expounded that, “We were trained so well, we were not scared in the least.” 

“I felt really comfortable because the training that we got from SpaceX was the same training that NASA astronauts are getting right now,” added Dr. Proctor.

The Official Inspiration4 website announced that the crew would perform several experiments during the spaceflight mission. The site states the main purpose of these experiments, which is to “expand our knowledge of the universe,” but does not mention any details on said experiments. Nevertheless, in the same interview with NBC, Mr. Isaacman stated that, “When we splashed down, it felt like all of our on-orbit objectives, everything we set out to achieve while we were in space, we completed.”

The crew safely returned to the Earth’s surface when the Crew Dragon capsule splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean on September 18 at 7:06 p.m. EDT,  after three days in orbit. 

This marked the conclusion, and the success, of the Inspiration4 mission.

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