The final members of the upcoming Inspiration4 all-civilian mission to space on a SpaceX Dragon have been named, with the last additions to the crew set to blast off later in the year. It’ll see the four occupants of the spacecraft fly further than any human since Hubble.
Though Inspiration4 is being billed as the first all-civilian mission to space, that doesn’t mean the crew will be novices when they climb inside the Dragon spacecraft. They’ll go through commercial astronaut training by SpaceX, learning the nuances of both the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and the spacecraft they’ll be strapped into.
That particular example is currently up at the International Space Station. If all goes to plan, it’ll return to Earth and be refurbished in time for Inspiration4’s scheduled launch. That’s targeted no earlier than September 15, 2021, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The training will be a whole lot of data, condensed into just a few months. For a start, the four will need to understand things like orbital mechanics, how to operate in microgravity and zero gravity, and other issues that they may encounter along the way. There’ll also be training on how to deal with emergencies, such as getting into and out of spacesuits and even the Dragon spacecraft itself. All of that will be tested in partial and full mission simulations.
Inspiration4 was announced earlier this year, with Shift4 Payments coughing up the cash for the four spots on a Dragon launch. Jared Isaacman, CEO of the company, will be commanding the mission; Hayley Arceneaux was already confirmed as Medical Officer, joining the team with a background of physician assistant work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN.
Christopher Sembroski of Everett, WA, will be the Mission Specialist, responsible for managing the Dragon’s payload, science experiments, and communication with Earth, among other things. He scored his spot after winning a sweepstake raising money for the children’s hospital. He also happens to be an aerospace employee currently working at Lockheed Martin, and a veteran of the US Air Force.
Finally, there’s Dr. Sian Proctor of Tempe, AZ, who was selected by an online business competition. She’ll be Mission Pilot, and backup to the Commander.
While the mission won’t take them to the ISS, it will be a multi-day event in space. The goal is a roughly 336 mile orbit around Earth, with the spacecraft circling the planet every 90 minutes. SpaceX will be managing it over the scheduled three days, and then Dragon will have a soft landing in the waters off the coast of Florida. While orbiting, it’ll be carrying out yet-to-be-decided scientific experiments, which the crew, SpaceX, and Shift4 will be choosing in the run-up to launch.