Featured Image Source: Inspiration4 via Twitter
SpaceX plans to launch the first all-civilian crew during Fall this year. The mission, designated as ‘Inspiration4,’ is funded by Shift4Payments founder Jared Isaacman who has the objective of inspiring the public to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His fundraising goal is $200 million of which Isaacman already donated $100 million. “Inspiration4’s goal is to inspire humanity to support St. Jude here on Earth while also seeing new possibilities for human spaceflight,” Isaacman stated in a press release. “Each of these outstanding crew members embodies the best of humanity, and I am humbled to lead them on this historic and purposeful mission and the adventure of a lifetime.” Isaacman will be commander of the mission. He will joined by former St. Jude patient, pediatric cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux. She is an oncology physician assistant at St. Jude and will serve as Inspiration4 crew medical chief during the spaceflight. The other two crewmembers, geoscience professor Dr. Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski who previously served the U.S Air Force, were selected through a Shift4Shop entrepreneur contest and a St. Jude fundraising raffle, respectively. Proctor will serve as mission pilot and back up the commander. Sembroski will serve as mission specialist, and will 'help manage payload, science experiments, communications to mission control.'
“It is a big responsibility to get it right.” – Jared Isaacman, Inspiration4 Commander, talks about his background and the important mission ahead for opening up access to space travel for all on #InspiringAmericaNBC. pic.twitter.com/AfMZ8DJj8h— Inspiration4 (@inspiration4x) May 6, 2021
The Inspiration4 crew is training for their upcoming space voyage aboard SpaceX’s previously-flown Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft, that will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex-39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Crew Dragon Resilience will be specially modified to feature a 360-degree glass dome window so they can enjoy beautiful views of Earth in orbit, as pictured below. Their space tour will have a duration of at least three days, orbiting along a modified flight path around our planet at an altitude of approximately 540-kilometers – which is higher than the Space Station and further than any human since Hubble Telescope was serviced in 2009. Upon conclusion of the multi-day journey, Dragon Resilience will reenter Earth’s atmosphere to conduct a parachute-assisted landing in the ocean off the coast of Florida.
Modified SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft./ Source: SpaceX
The Inspiration4 crew training includes “orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, zero gravity, emergency preparedness, spacesuit and spacecraft ingress and egress exercises and partial- and full-mission simulation,” project representatives shared. The civilian crew traveled to the National Aerospace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center in Pennsylvania for their first official astronaut training session in April. “At the NASTAR Center, the crew underwent centrifuge training to prepare for the various dynamic situations encountered during spaceflight — including launch, reentry, ocean splashdown, and a potential in-flight abort scenario,” Inspiration4 shared, “These centrifuge profiles were modeled by SpaceX after previous Dragon missions to closely replicate the g-forces the crew will experience during their trip to space.”
“Centrifuge training was a great way to kick off astronaut training. It allowed us to feel what we will experience during launch and reentry, and it made us all more excited for actual launch and reentry! I’m grateful we were able to have this unique opportunity and I am now feeling much more prepared for launch day,” Arceneaux said. “I enjoyed the experience because we got to simulate the g-forces from an actual liftoff and re-entry,” Dr. Proctor stated. “I feel like I have a better idea of what to expect and how my body will respond and that just makes me more excited for the real thing.”
The Inspiration4 team has made it back from Camp Muir on Mount Rainier!— Inspiration4 (@inspiration4x) May 4, 2021
@rookisaacman: “Mt. Rainier training objective complete. Most people train for six months to take on Rainier. This Inspiration4 crew had 30 days. I am so proud!” pic.twitter.com/B8xMaLfYzL
Most recently, the crew went mountain climbing in the snow –“The Inspiration4 team has made it back from Camp Muir on Mount Rainier!” representatives shared on May 4th. “Mt. Rainier training objective complete. Most people train for six months to take on Rainier. This Inspiration4 crew had 30 days. I am so proud!” Isaacman stated. They will continue their training as they prepare to liftoff this fall, no earlier than September 15 [date is subject to change]. Inspiration4 crewmembers were recently featured in a CBS This Morning news segment, you can watch their interview in the video linked below.