SPACE

SpaceX Crew Dragon returns to Earth: who are the all-civilian crew?

The four-person crew of the Inspiration4 mission, which spent three days orbiting the Earth, was the first to be composed entirely of private citizens.

0
SpaceX Crew Dragon returns to Earth: who are the all-civilian crew?
HANDOUT AFP

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule splashed down off the coast of Florida on Saturday at 7:06pm EDT, following a three-day mission that was the first ever spaceflight to Earth orbit featuring a crew made up entirely of private citizens.

Named Inspiration4, the mission saw the Crew Dragon orbit at an altitude of 575km - the furthest any human crew has flown from Earth since NASA’s Apollo programme ended in the early 1970s.

The automated capsule flew the mission without the need for input from the crew, although they had the power to intervene in an emergency.

Inspiration4 out to raise funds for Memphis children's hospital

Inspiration4 seeks to raise $200m for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, to help "give hope to all kids with cancer and other life-threatening diseases". During the flight, the four-person crew conducted scientific research "designed to advance human health on Earth and during future long-duration spaceflights", SpaceX said.

Who were the members of the all-civilian Inspiration4 crew?

Jared Isaacman

The billionaire CEO of Shift4 Payments, a payment technology company he founded at 16, Isaacman is the creator of the Inspiration4 mission, together with SpaceX chief Elon Musk.

The 38-year-old is a licensed pilot who has flown at more than 100 airshows, and is the co-founder of the aviation company Draken International, which trains military pilots. He has pledged to donate $100m to the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Isaacman was Inspiration4’s mission commander.

This September 16, 2021, image courtesy of Inspiration4 shows the Inspiration4 crew member Jared Isaacman communicating while looking out of an observation window while in orbit.

Hayley Arceneaux

The youngest American ever to fly into space, Arceneaux, 29, is a physician assistant at St Jude - the same hospital where, as a 10-year-old, she was successfully treated for osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Having had part of a leg removed as part of her treatment, she is the first person with a prosthetic body part to go to space.

Arceneaux was Inspiration4’s medical officer.

Christopher Sembroski

A data engineer for aerospace company Lockheed Martin, Sembroski is a US Air Force veteran who served in Iraq. The 42-year-old was selected as part of the crew after winning a lottery of some 72,000 people who had donated to St Jude.

Sembroski fulfilled the role of mission specialist on Inspiration4.

Dr Sian Proctor

Dr Proctor, 51, is a geoscience professor at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, and is a licensed pilot. She earned her place on the crew after winning an online competition run by Shift4 Payments. She is only the fourth African-American woman to fly space.

Proctor served as the Inspiration4 pilot.

Crew completed against-the-clock training for Inspiration4

After being announced in March, the crew underwent intensive training for the Inspiration4 mission, involving time in the simulator, hours spent studying briefing books and physical preparation such as climbing up the 14,000-feet Mount Rainier.

Their training had to be compressed into a much shorter period than astronauts usually get; indeed, it is estimated that NASA normally takes at least two years to train crews for a mission.

For more on Inspiration4, take a look at our full report on Crew Dragon’s return to Earth.