Meet the Inspiring Astronauts That Have Made History

First ever 'kind' crew touchdown after reaching for the stars.

Oct 4, 2021
Special Collections: INSPIRE THE GOOD
Meet the Inspiring Astronauts That Have Made History | First ever 'kind' crew touchdown after reaching for the stars.

In a summer season of entrepreneurial trips into space, a three-day mission backed by the knowhow and spacecraft of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, stood out for offering three space travel co-spaces to ordinary people with inspirational stories. 

They were led by a community-minded businessman and pilot, Jared Isaacman, keen to combine his passion for space with the will to make things better for people here on Earth.

First civilian mission to orbit
The mission, Inspiration4, a space flight launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on September 15, became the first ever orbital mission with no professional astronauts on board. 

The four occupants, aka Commander & Benefactor, Hope, Generosity and Prosperity, circled Earth for three days, reaching an orbital altitude of around 354 miles above the surface of the planet, before splashing down near the Florida coast on September 18. This four-person crew were strapped inside a Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft which sat perched on top of a 229-feet-tall (70 meters) Falcon 9 rocket. 

Crew Dragon's giant window at the “nose” of the space capsule was specially added to let the passengers enjoy awe-inspiring panoramic views reported the Daily Mail covering the moment the all-civilian crew saw Earth from space for the first time as surrounding objects including a kid’s toy,  floated around them in zero gravity in the background.

As Inspiration4’s website details, the mission is “Named in recognition of the four-person crew that will raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee,  this milestone represents a new era for human spaceflight and exploration.” During the mission, the crew answered questions from young current St. Jude patients, as this NBC News video shares.

An inspiring crew
Space.com outlines how the stellar crew lineup was made of an impressive roll call of individuals. 

Joining Isaacman on board were physician assistant Hayley Arcenaux, a frontline worker, and herself a former patient at St. Jude, who survived cancer. The youngest American to fly in space, she’s the first to have done so with a prosthesis (a metal rod in her leg following her cancer battle).

The place of data engineer Chris Sembroski, was secured after an auction raised significant sums for the research hospital. 

The final, mission pilot seat went to geoscientist and trained pilot, Sian Proctor. She had previously applied three times to NASA’s astronaut corps, but her winning ticket was coming first in a Shark Tank-style contest in which entrepreneurs showcased ways of raising funds for St. Jude’s, winning with her space art and poetry website called Space2inspire.

All went through a six-month preparatory training regime  courtesy of SpaceX. But onboard computer systems were in control of their Dragon capsule, overseen by SpaceX teams on the ground during the mission.  

Orbit for all
This spaceflight represents the clearest example yet that space is opening up to more people.

As Inspiration4 Commander, Jared Issacman, an advocate of space for all said from inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft, referring to civilians in space and reported on Space.com: “Few have come before, and many are about to follow… The door is now open, and it's pretty incredible."

The European Space Agency’s latest astronaut recruitment drive was intentionally more inclusive, hoping to attract candidates of all abilities.

More broadly, the Inspiration4 mission may signify the dawn of space tourism. A recent BBC News article sees it as another milestone in the space tourism market. Plans to launch a first space hotel in 2027 are already underway.  Meanwhile, more “privateer” visits to the International Space Station (ISS) are scheduled, one in October, carrying a Russian movie director and actress.

These recent developments signify that space travel is becoming more inclusive, as Sian Proctor excitedly suggests in our video. 

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Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.
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