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Inspiration 4 - The First All Civilian Space Flight

September 15th, 8:00 PM Est atop a Falcon 9 rocket from LC-39A at Kennedy Space Center

Months ago, billionaire Jared Isaacman announced his plan to go to space. He stated he was bringing three people along with him, all civilians. His idea was to raise 200 millions dollars to the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Personally he donated 100 million dollars and publicly stated he was hoping to raise 100 million more through a charity raffle, the winner getting a ride to space for three days with Isaacman himself and two other passengers in a SpaceX Dragon capsule. The rules were simple, donate ten dollars or more and receive tickets to the raffle. Persons who donated more money received more tickets, more chances to win the trip to space.

There would be four seats represented on this flight, Jared Isaacman’s is called Leadership, the next seat announced was the Hope seat. Who ever won the raffle would be flying in the Generosity seat, and lastly a contest was held by entrepreneurs who would make a short video of their start up company. This final seat represents Prosperity.

These four seats with four Americans will become the first all civilian mission to space. That means no astronauts present on this journey, though the crew did spend several months preparing for the trip. The four climbed Mt. Rainier, flew fighter jets and did numerous other trainings that mirrored what a true NASA astronaut would go through, just in a much shorter time span. Another amazing first on this mission is the size of the window they're bringing to space. It will be the largest window, or cupola to reach orbit, intended to let the four have some of the best views of the Earth and the heavens above. Since the Crew Dragon space craft is not docking to the ISS (International Space Station) the docking hatch was taken out and replaced with the cupola.

Dragon with Cupola. Courtesy of SpaceX

After Isaacman's Leadership seat, the next announced was Hope. Hayley Arceneaux, a bone cancer survivor and now Physician Assistant working at St. Jude is filling this one. At ten years old she first began to complain of aching in her knee the doctor originally thought it was just a sprain. A few months later tests revealed she was suffering from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Her family reached out to St. Jude Children’s Research hospital for treatment. These included about a dozen rounds of chemotherapy, and a limb preservation surgery including a knee replacement with a titanium rod in her left thigh bone. When she reaches orbit in a few days she will be not only the youngest American to reach space but also the first person with a prosthetic to leave Earth. Haley is now a Physician Assistant at none other than St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, working exactly where she said she wanted to as she went through her cancer treatment. During the Inspiration 4 mission she will serve in a medical role and oversee crew care and experiments during the duration of the space flight.

Chris Sembroski, Dr. Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman, Haley Arceneaux. Photo courtesy of John Kraus

Chris Sembroski, who donated to St. Jude’s after seeing the ad for the mission during the Super bowl that he really didn’t think much of things until he got an email asking him to hop on a zoom call for some administrative things regarding the mission. Originally it was another who had won the raffle, but this person declined the prize and transferred it to Chris who was a friend from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. When Sembroski signed onto that call and saw Jared Isaacman and the flight director for the mission he was told he had won the raffle, that he was going to space. Chris, an Air Force veteran who also works for Lockheed Martin told the two that he had to confer with his family, as they will always come first to him. Of course we know he accepted the prize and has since been training with the other three, preparing for their journey.

Dr. Sian Proctor who will serve as the missions pilot is a geoscience professor at South Mountain Community College in Arizona, and a science communicator who has dreamed of going to space since childhood. She is also a major in the Civil Air Patrol where she serves as the aerospace education officer for its Arizona Wing. She has been entrenched in space travel for her entire life, in fact she was born on Guam where her father worked for NASA during the Apollo era and helped mission control track the astronauts from his station on the island. She will be bringing with her a letter written to her father, thanking him for his help on the Apollo 11 mission from none other than Neil Armstrong. Dr. Proctor came close to reaching space when in 2009 she applied to be a NASA astronaut but was ultimately not selected. She had thought her dream of space flight would never come true, but for the Prosperity seat her short video that went viral online about her poetry and art about space got her the selection from a celebrity panel.

Hope, Generosity, Prosperity. All qualities that can belong to any one. These three people, and seats represent that any one can fulfill their dreams if they have what it takes, of course though they had a little help from Jared Isaacman, who’s fourth seat is that of Leadership. It is because of him, and his desire not just to venture into space but to bring along regular citizens with him, showing that anything is possible.

Isaacman, a New Jersey native dropped out of school at an early age and begun working on computer technical service and repair when he was fourteen. As a result of hard work he found himself with a full time job offer from one of his clients, obtaining a GED along the way. In 2005 he founded a retail payment processing company named United Bank Card which was later renamed Harbortouch. In 2015 the company had been making 11 billion dollars from over sixty thousand merchants generating three hundred million in revenue. By 2020 the company was once again renamed Shift4 Payments where Isaacman remained the CEO. he was processing over two hundred billion in payments around this time. Earlier in 2012 he co-founded Draken International which is a Florida based company that trains pilots the United States Armed Forces. They currently operate one of the world’s largest fleets of privately owned fighter jets. In 2009 Isaacman set a world record for circumnavigating the globe, he is also married with with two daughters. It was back in February of 2021 that he announced he would serve as commander of the Inspiration 4 mission. Currently the launch is Scheduled for September 15th at 8:00 PM Est, just three days from now.

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