First orbital spaceflight with only private citizens aboard
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Inspiration4 (stylized as Inspirati④n) is an ongoing human spaceflight mission operated by SpaceX on behalf of Shift4 Payments CEO Jared Isaacman. The mission launched on 16 September 2021, at 00:02:56 UTC from the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A, atop a Falcon 9 launch vehicle, placing the Dragon capsule into low Earth orbit.
The mission aims to complete the first orbital spaceflight with only private citizens aboard, as part of a charitable effort on behalf of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Four crew members (Hayley Arceneaux, Christopher Sembroski, Sian Proctor, and Isaacman) are expected to remain in orbit aboard Crew Dragon Resilience, which was outfitted with a cupola unique to this flight in place of a docking hatch.
The mission overlaps with the 55th anniversary of Gemini 11 in September 1966 which had an apogee of approximately 1,368 km (850 mi), the highest Earth orbit ever reached on a crewed flight. The Inspiration4 flight is at an orbital altitude of approximately 585 km (364 mi), the highest achieved since 1999 and the 5th highest Earth orbital human spaceflight overall.
Mission and Crew
Inspiration4 is the first human spaceflight to orbit Earth with only private citizens on board. The mission promoted and raised money for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The crew and mission intended to raise upwards of US$200 million to expand St. Jude's childhood cancer research. Inspiration4 is led by Shift4 Payments CEO Jared Isaacman, an experienced pilot with qualifications in military jets.
Isaacman procured the flight and its four seats from SpaceX and donated two of the seats to St. Jude. Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at the hospital and a survivor of bone cancer, was selected by the hospital to board the flight.
An undisclosed person from Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University ultimately won the raffle and decided for personal reasons to give the seat to his friend, U.S. Air Force veteran Christopher Sembroski, who was also one of 72,000 entrants in the raffle.
Entrepreneur Sian Proctor was selected by Shift4 Payments to board the flight, through a competition modeled after Shark Tank that rewarded the best business idea to make use of Shift4's commerce solutions.
This is the first spacecraft to orbit with an all-rookie crew since Shenzhou 7 in 2008.
All four crew members received commercial astronaut training by SpaceX, which encompassed lessons in orbital mechanics, operating in a microgravity environment, stress testing, emergency preparedness training, and mission simulations.
Resilience launched on 16 September 2021 at 00:02:56 UTC (15 September 2021 at 20:02:56 EDT), atop Falcon 9 Block 5 booster B1062 from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. It was the third flight of this booster. The spacecraft was launched into an inclination of 51.6°. Following three days in orbit, the spacecraft will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.
Each crew member was assigned an individual call sign for communications. Isaacman's call sign is "Rook", while Proctor's is "Leo", Arcenaux's is "Nova", and Sembroski's is "Hanks".
The flight plan aimed for an altitude of at least 575 km (357 mi), and reached an altitude of 585 km (364 mi), a height surpassing STS-125 in 2009 which had an apogee of 578 km (359 mi), and the highest crewed spaceflight since STS-103 in 1999 with an apogee of 610 km (380 mi).
After three days in space, SpaceX's first all-civilian crew will return to Earth tonight (19 Sep 04:30 a.m. IST) with a splashdown off the Florida coast to end a mission like no other in history.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience is scheduled to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida. You can watch SpaceX's Inspiration4 splashdown in the window above.
Splashdown is set for 7:06 p.m. EDT (04:30 a.m. IST).
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