SpaceX has made history once again. Called “the world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight mission to orbit,” Inspiration4 launched successfully from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 8:02:56 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, September 15, 2021. The three-day orbital flight, which is using SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 launch vehicle, was booked by Shift4 Payments founder and pilot Jared Isaacman earlier this year.
Along with Isaacman, Inspiration4 is crewed by physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and pediatric cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux, Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer Chris Sembroski and geoscientist, entrepreneur and pilot Dr. Sian Proctor. In the six months leading up to the launch, the crew underwent centrifuge training, Dragon simulations, observations of launch operations, Zero-G plane training and altitude training along with classroom, simulation and medical testing. The venture has raised more than $130 million to date.
It’s not the first time that private passengers have paid to fly in space, but the so-called Inspiration4 mission is the first expedition into orbit without any professional astronauts on board. The historic flight represents the next stage in the evolution of human spaceflight, as access to the cosmos expands beyond just governments and their space agencies.
“The door is wide open,” Isaacman said as he and his crew members reached space.
Story credit: Virginia Department of Aviation; https://doav.virginia.gov/calendar-and-news/news/2021-september/all-civilian-spaceflight-mission-launches/