In ten days, SpaceX and the payment processing company Shift4Payments will make history when four commercial astronauts board the Crew Dragon Resilience and fly into space. This mission, known as Inspiration4, will be the first purely civilian flight in history that will raise awareness and resources for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and inspire the next generation to educate and work in the STEM. to search fields.
In preparation for this moment in space history, the crew of four got the chance to see an important piece of hardware that will make the mission special. This was the Crew Dragon dome, a domed glass window that replaced the usual docking adapter on the front of the spacecraft. Before it was shipped to Florida to be integrated with the rest of the spaceship, the crew had the opportunity to peek through the dome and imagine what it will be like in space!
This event, shared on Twitter, took place last Wednesday (September 1st) at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. One after the other, the four-person crew were given the opportunity to pose in the dome as part of a campaign to draw attention to the first purely civilian flight. This mission will not just be a milestone in space travel. It also shows how commercial space travel and public-private partnerships are making space more accessible and beneficial.
A look at the dragon dome which gives our Inspiration4 astronauts an incredible view of Earth from orbit!
The crew visited the flight hardware dome in California before shipping to Florida for integration into Dragon Resilience. pic.twitter.com/9ivMZrS1ip
– Inspiration4 (@ inspiration4x) September 1, 2021
This mission is named in recognition of the crew of four who will fly into space to raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. These include Mission Commander Jared Isaacman, Mission Pilot Dr. Sian Proctor, Medical Officer Hayley Arceneaux, and Mission Specialist Chris Sembroski. Each person has been carefully selected based on the skills and experience they bring to the mission and represent a particular part of the overall theme.
- Jared Isaacman: Former member of the Black Diamond Jet team, philanthropist, founder of the world’s largest private air force training program (Draken International) and founder / CEO of Shift4 Payments (Inspiration4 sponsor), is Isaacman’s benefactor this mission.
- Dr. Sian Proctor: Professor of Earth Sciences, specialist in science communication, analog astronaut (HI-SEAS), commercial astronaut, founder of Space2Inspire and space advocate with years of experience in family ministry at NASA, embodies Dr. Proctor the spirit of prosperity for this mission.
- Hayley Arceneaux: After surviving cancer at a young age, Arceneaux became a Physicians Assistant (PA) at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (the place where she received her treatment). She embodies the spirit of hope for this mission.
- Chris Sembroski: An aeronautical engineer, US Air Force officer (retired), former US Space Camp advisor and current STEM advocate, Sembroski has always strived to share his passion for space with others and embodied the spirit of generosity on this mission.
After the crew selection process was completed and the winners announced in March 2021, the crew of four began the six-month training process to prepare for space travel. This included parabolic flights (also known as zero-G flights) to get them used to the feeling of weightlessness, altitude training (climbing Mount Ranier), centrifuge training, kite simulations, observations of other take-off operations and additional classroom, simulation and medical testing.
The Inspiration4 crew (from left to right), Chris Sembroski, Dr. Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman and Hayley Arceneaux. Photo credit: Inspiration4
Crew members are expected to arrive in Florida on Thursday, September 9th, to begin final preparations for their mission. The launch will take place from the historic Launch Complex 39A of the Kennedy Space Center, where the Apollo and Space Shuttle missions were also launched. The spacecraft in question, Resilience, is also historic in that it was used for the NASA SpaceX Crew-1 mission, the first space flight launched from American soil since 2011.
On September 3, teams from SpaceX and the Inspiration4 mission met at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California to conduct an airworthiness check of the resilience, the Falcon 9 rocket that will put it into orbit, the ground systems, the recovery facilities, and the Perform results of astronaut training and other important mission elements. After determining that everything was OK, a start date was set for Wednesday September 14th with an alternate start date for Thursday September 15th.
Both launches are currently scheduled to start at 12:00 p.m. UTC (5:00 p.m. PDT; 8:00 p.m. EDT). Three days before launch, SpaceX will reduce this to five hours, depending on conditions at the launch site, along the ascent corridor, and at the landing sites where the crew is expected off the coast of Florida. In addition to the four-person crew, Resilience will also carry scientific equipment for research and experiments in microgravity.
The setup and the actual mission will also be the subject of a documentary series entitled Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space, which Netflix produced in collaboration with Time Warner. The first episode of this “semi-live” series will air tomorrow, Monday, September 6th and will run until September 30th. The schedule for this five-part documentary series was recently shared on Twitter, as was the latest trailer (see below).
The first two episodes (both airing September 6th) will introduce the audience to the four commercial astronauts going into space. On September 13th, the third and fourth episodes show how the crew has trained for the mission over the past six months. The series will then branch into a semi-live event on September 15, as the launch of Inspiration4 will be broadcast live on Netflix’s YouTube channel.
In the fifth and final episode (on September 30), viewers will be confronted with what the astronauts saw for three days as they orbited the earth before landing in the Atlantic. In addition to footage from inside the Resilience spacecraft, a camera attached to the outside of the spacecraft will also show what it was like for the crew of four to look through the dome and see the depths of space and planet Earth from orbit.
Please visit the mission website for more information and information on the people who will reach this space milestone. To learn more about how you can support or get involved in vital cancer research, visit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital website. And if you haven’t already, you might want to bookmark the series on your Netflix account. Also check out the new trailer (posted above)!
Further reading: Inspiration4