On September 15 the crew of Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight mission to orbit, officially ushered in a new era of space exploration at 8:02:56 PM EDT as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 lifted off from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
“Our crew carries the responsibility and importance of this mission as we prepare to blast off,” said Inspiration4 Commander Jared Isaacman just before launch. “We have been well-prepared for the challenges ahead of us the next three days and look forward to sharing our experience with the world as we continue to bring attention to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® here on earth.”
Since the mission’s announcement in March 2021, the Inspiration4 crew has spent the past six months completing a wide range of training activities including centrifuge training, Dragon simulations, observations of other launch operations, Zero-G plane training, altitude training and additional classroom, simulation and medical testing. This intensive, focused preparation was essential to helping four diverse strangers grow into their new roles as the first all-civilian astronaut crew to orbit Earth.
The crew’s collective goal has not only been to fly to space but also make a significant contribution in the fight to cure childhood cancer back on Earth. Started by an initial $100 million gift from Isaacman to St. Jude, Inspiration4 has a fundraising goal to raise $200 million through February 2022 to help accelerate research advancements and save more children worldwide.
To date, the mission has a commitment of more than $130 million with new auction items and ways to support being shared during and after the mission. To get involved, click here.
“We are thankful to Jared for his incredible leadership as the commander of the historic mission and for his work helping to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “The significance of Inspiration4 cannot be overstated.
The mission ushers in a new era in citizen space travel and gives hope to children. Cancer is diagnosed each year in about 400,000 children worldwide. Curing catastrophic diseases in children is a multi-trillion-dollar, multi-year problem and the public’s support – through initiatives like Inspiration4 – makes it possible for us to raise the critical funds needed to help save children everywhere.”
The Inspiration4 mission marks several historic milestones for human space exploration. They will be the first all-civilian crew to orbit Earth, the first free-flight Crew Dragon mission, and the first orbital human spaceflight mission that will not dock with a space station since the final Hubble mission on STS-125 in 2009. Inspiration4 is being monitored at every step by SpaceX mission control as the spacecraft orbits the planet every 90 minutes along a custom flight path.
The crew is targeting an approximate 575 km orbit, flying farther than any human since Hubble, for an expected mission duration of approximately three days. To learn about the research and activities the crew will participate in during the mission, see the previous announcement here.
“The all-civilian Inspiration4 astronauts are paving the way for a future where space is more accessible to all who wish to go, and we are so proud that they entrusted us to fly them,” said SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell. “On behalf of all SpaceX employees, I want to thank the crew and their families for allowing us to be a part of their historic mission.”
After an approximately three-day journey, the Inspiration4 team will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere for a soft water landing off the coast of Florida.
The mission can be tracked at spacex.com/launches through their Dragon Tracker tool. To see updates on Inspiration4’s journey throughout the mission, visit www.inspiration4.com and follow Twitter (@inspiration4x), Facebook (@inspiration4mission) Instagram (@inspiration4) and YouTube (@Inspiration4). Additionally, TIME Studios is producing a Netflix documentary series based on the historical rookie crew with episodes now streaming.
Brian Bianco , Inspiration4 photos