The Inspiration4 space mission has finalized its crew with the selection of its final two members. The new additions are Sian Proctor, an entrepreneur and pilot who will serve as the mission pilot, and Christopher Sembroski, a Lockheed-Martin employee who is joining the crew as a mission specialist.
The Inspiration4 crew will fly on a SpaceX Crew Dragon on a three-day orbital mission that is slated to launch from historic launchpad 39A at Cape Canaveral in Florida as early as September 15. The flight plan has the crew reaching an altitude of 540 kilometers, nearly 200 kilometers higher than the International Space Station’s altitude of 350 kilometers. The crew will undergo commercial astronaut training until Launch Day arrives.
Doctor Sian Proctor was selected from 200 entries in a business competition organized by Inspiration4 organizer and Shift4Shop founder Jared Isaacman. Entrants could qualify by trying the Shift4Shop e-commerce package.
“I have always believed that I was preparing for something special, and that moment has arrived with Inspiration4,” she said in a statement.
Shift4Shop also announced a separate giveaway as a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in early February. Shift4Shop CEO Jared Isaacman donated $100 million to St. Jude. The fundraiser raised a total of $113 million and generated 72,000 entrants in the sweepstakes. Christopher Sembroski was one of the contributors to the fundraiser.
“Although I’ve been fortunate to have spent years in the aerospace industry, I never imagined having the opportunity to reach the stars, especially through something as simple as supporting St. Jude,” Sembroski said in a press release issued by Inspiration4.
Hayley Arceneaux was previously announced as a crew member. She currently works at St. Jude’s facility in Memphis, Tennessee and also received treatment for bone cancer at St. Jude when she was a child. She will serve as the crew’s medical officer.
Isaacman will command the Inspiration4 mission. He aims to use Inspiration4 to promote the four pillars of Leadership, Hope, Prosperity, and Generosity.
“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,” he said.
The mission does come with some risks even though it will be making use of SpaceX’s tried-and-true Falcon rockets and the Crew Dragon has previously been used in crewed flights to the International Space Station. Demo-2 was a success and Crew-1 is still docked to the International Space Station. Elon Musk has previously admitted that launching actual crews does make him nervous, which may be understandable considering how many times that Starship prototypes have already exploded.
“The risk is not zero. … When you’ve got a brand new mode of transportation, you have to have pioneers,” he said of it when Inspiration4 was announced.
Even so, both Isaacman and Musk seem eager to make space more accessible to ordinary people. Previous private citizens who went into space as “space tourists” were all people who could afford the multi-million-dollar “tickets”.
“Jared keeps saying it’s incredibly important to recognize that these are everyday people [who] get to go to space and that gives me goosebumps even right now talking about it but the fact that we can give everyday people the coolest window that’s ever flown — that’s awesome,” said SpaceX crew mission management Benji Reed.
He appears to be referring to the brand-new dome window design on the Crew Dragon that will be used for Inspiration4, which will give its crew a unique view of Earth while in orbit. Demand for a window in orbiting spacecraft dates back to NASA’s Mercury Program of the 1960s, when the original astronauts insisted that there should be a way for spacecraft crews to see what’s going on outside their spacecraft. Elon Musk had this to say about it:
Many astronauts have said that seeing Earth from space has helped to change their perspective of issues on Earth. It will be interesting to hear the crew’s reactions to their experience in space once the Inspiration4 mission is completed in September.