It's safe to say the civilian astronauts who will fly to space on a SpaceX Crew Dragon are really, really excited for their upcoming trip around Earth.
Inspiration4 — an all-civilian mission SpaceX is slated to launch no earlier than Sept. 15, will be the first fully private crewed orbital mission in history. On Tuesday (March 30), the mission announced the last two recruits for the four-person flight.
The two newcomers are Lockheed Martin employee and U.S. Air Force veteran Christopher Sembroski and Sian Proctor, a geologist, analog astronaut and artist who is a professor of planetary science at the South Mountain Community College in Arizona. During a news conference announcing the two additions, the crew couldn't hide their excitement.
"It was the best moment … I got the 'yes,'' Proctor said about getting the call that she had won, "and it's that life-changing ‘yes’ moment … it's something that I have wanted my entire life and I'm so thankful and so happy to be here and I feel so fortunate that I'm going to space with these people around me." She added that getting the call felt like the scene in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (Arthur A. Levine Books, 1998) "when he finds out that he's going to be a wizard."
Inspiration4 is set to take four passengers around Earth a number of times over the course of three days. The crew will fly on board a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that has been specially outfitted with a small cupola observation window just for this mission. Billionaire tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, who chartered the flight to Earth orbit with SpaceX, will serve as commander for the mission and will be joined on the flight by childhood bone cancer survivor and physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux and, as was announced today, Proctor and Sembroski.
The mission has four pillars representing the four seats on board. Isaacman represents the "leadership" pillar and Arceneaux represents the "hope" pillar. Proctor will join the crew representing the "prosperity" mission pillar after winning an independently-judged public contest that drew a wide variety of applicants and Sembroski will join the team as part of the "generosity" pillar after helping the campaign to raise funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Since it was announced in February, the Inspiration4 mission campaign has raised approximately $113 million, according to a statement.
During the news conference today, the crew’s eyes lit up with excitement as they shared their thoughts about being chosen for the mission. They also discussed what they are looking forward to with the flight, which is slated to take off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center no sooner than Sept. 15, 2021.
"I really hope that once I am up there [in space], supporting our crew as a mission specialist, that I am able to experience what it's like to look back down at Earth and see our beautiful blue ball sitting there with no lines, no walls, and realize what incredible opportunities we have if we just continue to show kindness to one another and reach out and be generous with our talents," Sembroski said.
Proctor shared Sembroski's excitement about viewing Earth from space: "Being up in the Dragon capsule and with the cupola looking back at Earth and being able to see all the geologic features and being able to describe what I'm seeing; the landforms and the oceans and our thin atmosphere," Proctor told Space.com during the news conference.
"As a scientist turned artist," she added, "I feel like I'm in the perfect position to meld both of those two things together and share this message of hope and inspiration to the world. I can't think of anything better … one of my goals is to use my space to inspire those within my reach and beyond."
Arceneaux, who was chosen for the mission in February, echoed the enthusiasm of her new crewmates, sharing that "it's an incredible honor to be part of this inspiration for missions. I'm so excited about the amazing work that we're going to be able to do. And while we have a really fun adventure ahead of us, I know that we're going to do some incredible work back here on Earth."
"We're taking that first step towards fulfilling the SpaceX vision … which is that the world is a more fundamentally interesting place when everyone can go and journey among the stars," Isaacman said about the upcoming mission and the newly-announced crew. "We promised the crew representing some of the best of humanitarian qualities exemplifying our mission ideals of leadership, hope, prosperity and generosity. And I'm pleased to report that we've accomplished that goal."
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