Herald staff and Associated Press
If everything goes according to plan, Wednesday will be a small step for humans, a big leap for Everett’s Christopher Sembroski.
The 42-year-old data engineer is to be shot into space with three other civilians aboard a SpaceX Dragon space probe on a Falcon 9 rocket. There will be no professional astronauts on board. Dragon spaceships have only flown humans twice so far.
Inspiration4 is considered to be the world’s first purely civilian mission in orbit. You will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida – NASA’s iconic 39A launch complex – and spend about three days conducting experiments as they orbit the earth at an altitude of 557 miles, which is 100 miles higher than the International Space Station and just under above the current position of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Sembroski was selected for the mission after an online competition to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. He didn’t really win, but a college friend won him and gave him the slot. He is assisted by geoscientist Sian Proctor, 51, from Phoenix; Childhood cancer survivor and medical assistant Hayley Arceneaux, 29, of Memphis, Tennessee; and billionaire Washington, New Jersey businessman Jared Isaacman, 38, who funds the mission and serves as its commander. Although there are no professional astronauts on board, Isaacman is an experienced private pilot who can fly fighter jets.
The missile was scheduled to take off during a five-hour launch window that opens at 5:02 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesday. The flight could be delayed due to the weather or a technical problem, although no problems were known at this point in time. If there is a delay, another five-hour startup window occurs on Thursday at 5:05 p.m. PDT.
The crew of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 orbital mission, from left: Chris Sembroski of Everett, Sian Proctor of Phoenix, Jared Isaacman of Washington, New Jersey, and Hayley Arceneaux of Memphis, Tennessee. (RoomX)
SpaceX produces its own TV coverage of missions like Inspiration4 and streams them live on YouTube, where it also publishes replays. Cable news channels will likely follow closely the take-off and landing.
Isaacman and SpaceX have chosen Earth orbit as the sweet spot for three days. It gives him and his fellow travelers plenty of time to enjoy the view through a bespoke bubble-shaped window, take blood samples and do other medical research, and spark interest in auction items that will benefit the hospital.
Although the Dragon is spacious for a capsule, it offers practically no privacy; only a curtain shields the toilet. In contrast to the space station and the old NASA shuttles, there are no galleys or sleeping compartments or even separate work areas. As for the food, after taking off they will eat cold pizza. They also pack ready-to-eat astronaut-style dishes.
The crew of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 orbital mission on August 23, 2021, cover of Time magazine. From left: Hayley Arceneaux of Memphis, Tennessee, Sian Proctor of Phoenix, Chris Sembroski of Everett, and Jared Isaacman of Washington, New Jersey. (Time)
Time Magazine put the crew on the cover of the magazine last month and produced a series for Netflix, “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space”, which is still running and ends after the mission. On the series, Sembroski’s wife, Erin Duncan-Sembroski, a school teacher, said she wasn’t going to party before the splash.
Erin Duncan-Sembroski (right) and her husband Chris Sembroski embrace in a scene from the Netflix series “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space” on top of launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Netflix)
Where can you find out more
• Stream the mission live on YouTube
• Our profile of Chris Sembroski from April
• Follow Sembroski’s journey on Twitter
• Inspiration4 website