SpaceX’s Inspiration4 All-Civilian Space Flight: When to Watch and What to Know



SpaceX’s first fully civilian launch is set to launch on Tuesday, September 14, carrying a message of diversity on the third billionaire-led flight to launch in 2021.

The mission, called Inspiration4, features four private citizens who will fly aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft for a mission orbiting Earth.

Billionaire Jared Issacman, founder of Shift4 Payments, bought the flight as part of an effort to raise millions for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He is joined by Haley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski.

Live Updates: SpaceX’s Inspiration4 Fully Civilian Private Orbital Mission
SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission in photos

The Inspiration4 crew poses with their Crew Dragon spaceship. (Image credit: Inspiration4)

Inspiration4 is a billionaire’s third space flight in 2021. The other two – two suborbital missions – were the flight of Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson and company employees aboard the Unity 22 mission on July 11, and The flight of Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and three other passengers (including famous aviator Wally Funk) flew aboard a New Shepard spacecraft on July 20.

Like these other two flights, Inspiration4 is largely made up of civilians with no professional space experience, although the crew have undergone basic training to get a feel for what to expect. But this time, the crew will spend three days orbiting Earth, unlike Bezos and Branson’s brief suborbital flights. Learn more about the flight below.

What time is the launch?

Inspiration4 is set to take off during a 24 hour launch window that opens on Tuesday, September 14 at 8 p.m. EDT (midnight September 15 GMT). In the event of weather or other technical delays, a 24-hour emergency launch window is available from Wednesday, September 15, also at 8 p.m. EDT (midnight September 16, GMT). Mission officials will announce a more specific launch time in the days leading up to launch.

Typically, launch times are subject to factors such as space traffic and weather both at the launch site and at nearby emergency sites. Like other Crew Dragon launches, Inspiration4 will go to space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. But while other Crew Dragons have made it to the International Space Station, the Inspiration4 mission will not encounter another spacecraft. space during this orbital mission.

Where is the launch

Chris Sembroski, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Jared Isaacman pose in front of their SpaceX launch pad, Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 29, 2021. (Image credit: SpaceX)

The launch will take place from NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on September 15. SpaceX leases Launch Complex 39A from NASA and has modified the platform for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches.

The most famous launch of the Pad 39A was the first Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969, but it was also used throughout the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs for crewed missions. The space shuttle program retired in 2011, and SpaceX signed a 20-year lease for the pad in April 2014.

Spectators wishing to see the launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex should buy tickets online in advance. For a list of other great places nearby to watch the launch for free, check out NASA Launch Viewing Tips Here.

Who flies on Inspiration4?

The Inspiration4 crew poses with their Crew Dragon spaceship. From right to left: Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman and Hayley Arceneaux. (Image credit: John Kraus / Courtesy of Netflix)

Each of Inspiration4’s four crew members have been selected to represent one of the “pillars” of support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity.

The four Inspiration4 crew members are:

  • Jared isaacman (“Leadership”), 37, Founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments. Isaacman also logged approximately 6,000 hours as a private pilot. Isaacman has always dreamed of going to space and in media interviews he has said he wants to do so while donating other seats to deserving people. He will serve as the squadron commander.
  • Hayley Arceneaux (“Hope”), 29, a physician’s assistant in St. Jude and a childhood bone cancer survivor from Louisiana (who was also treated in St. Jude as a child). She was selected to represent the charity for which Isaacman plans to raise funds. She will be the first person to fly into space with a prosthetic limb. Isaacman personally invited Arcenaux to join the mission as Chief Medical Officer.
  • Chris Sembroski (“Generosity”), 42, data engineer for Lockheed Martin of North Carolina. Sembroski is a longtime space enthusiast with an amateur background as an astronomer and rocket pilot. He is a former camp counselor at Space Camp and, like many astronauts, is a veteran of the US Air Force. Sembroski is the winner of a raffle organized by Isaacman to raise funds for St. Jude. He will serve as a mission specialist.
  • Sian Proctor (“Prosperity”), 51, geoscientist and science communication specialist who has participated in four analog space missions. Proctor was chosen as the winner of Isaacman’s Shift4Shop contest, which asked participants to create an e-commerce site and record a video about their business. Proctor’s “Space2Inspire” store featured postcards and prints of his AfronautSpace art, to spark conversations about women of color in the space industry. Proctor will be the first person from Guam to fly into space, and she will serve as a mission pilot.

What is the mission?

The mission has a dual purpose of inspiring and driving science into orbit. The Inspiration4 website notes that the spacecraft’s path above Earth will pass through about 90 percent of the world’s population. Additionally, the crew plans to engage in experiments “designed to expand our knowledge of the universe,” with the goal of allocating the “maximum possible mass” to research beyond what the crew needs to live and survive in space. The science is meant to deal with projects “which are otherwise unable to overcome the high barriers of traditional space research,” the website adds.

Related: Inspiration4 astronauts to conduct health research on private SpaceX mission

Investigators from the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine and investigators from Weill Cornell Medicine “will collect environmental and biomedical data and biological samples from the four Inspiration4 crew members before, during and after this. historic space flight ”, the release notes.

The experiments are extensive and cover everything from studying the genome to balance, blood, organs, behavior and more. Participating scientists also commit to making all biomedical data open to the public in a repository, for research purposes.

Timeline of Inspiration4 missions

A detailed schedule of mission activities has yet to be posted on the Inspiration4 website, but it is clear when the official launch time will be determined and when the backup opportunities will be available.

The September 14 launch time opens at 8:00 p.m. EDT (or 1200 GMT on September 15) and will last 24 hours, according to Inspiration4 mission updates. A backup opportunity is available for 24 hours starting September 15 at 8:00 p.m. EDT (1200 GMT September 16).

About three days before takeoff, SpaceX will reduce the launch window to five hours depending on weather conditions at the launch site, along the ascent corridor, and at landing sites off the coast of Florida to a safe return of the crew and a landing a few days later “, a September 3 mission update declared.

The water landing is scheduled for three days after launch, and as with previous Crew Dragon flights, the spacecraft will land off the coast of Florida so that crew and scientific samples can be quickly and easily returned to the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.


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