Science & Technology

Inspiration 4: A New Precedent for Space Exploration

By Elyas Layachi

Volume 2 Issue 1

October 8, 2021

Inspiration 4: A New Precedent for Space Exploration

Image provided by PC Mag

Introduction

After the termination of the shuttle program in 2011, NASA needed a new, more efficient way to transport cargo (and eventually astronauts) to the International Space Station. As a result, they started the Commercial Resupplies Services (CRS) contract in which NASA partnered with private companies and nominated their ships to send cargo to the station. Numerous companies applied, but SpaceX and their Dragon spacecraft caught NASA’s attention, and they were selected for CRS-1, the first CRS mission. On October 8th, 2012, SpaceX launched their Dragon spacecraft, and it successfully docked with the ISS, transporting valuable scientific cargo.


Since CRS-1, SpaceX has partnered with NASA in over 20 CRS missions, transporting billions of dollars in NASA and scientific cargo to the space station and back. The same year CRS was created, the Commercial Crew Program was created. This program gave private industries the opportunity to use their technologies to send NASA astronauts to the ISS and back as part of astronaut missions. Just a few years later, in November of 2016, four astronauts launched from Florida to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. This mission proved that private industries could facilitate manned missions, and that their technology is viable.


SpaceX continued to innovate, and on Wednesday, September 15th, SpaceX launched four civilians into space. This is the first space mission in which a civilian crew with no prior spaceflight experience was launched into space, and they safely made it to and from space. As you read, you’ll learn about the mission, its purpose, and the astronauts themselves.


Inspiration4 – Leadership, Hope, Generosity, and Prosperity

Inspiration4 was the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit. Aboard SpaceX’s flagship spacecraft, Inspiration4 left Earth from Kennedy Space Center’s Complex 39A (where Apollo and space shuttle missions were launched). The astronauts stayed in space for several days, taking in the sights of Mother Earth. The crew conducted experiments designed to expand knowledge of the universe. The Crew Dragon spacecraft carried 365 pounds of cargo, both of crew essentials and scientific equipment. Experiments included micro-gravity research and experimentation. According to SpaceX, the mission represents the four core values of any space venture: leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity (hence the name Inspiration4).


The civilian crew launched aboard SpaceX’s Dragon Spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. According to SpaceX, the Dragon Spacecraft, capable of carrying up to 7 passengers, is the only spacecraft currently flying that can return significant amounts of cargo to Earth. Furthermore, it is the first private spacecraft to take humans to the Space Station (see Crew-1 mission mentioned above). The spacecraft was carried to space aboard the Falcon 9 rocket, which is a reusable, two-stage rocket. Designed and manufactured by SpaceX, it was made for the reliable and safe transportation of people and cargo to low-Earth orbit and beyond. It is the world’s first “orbital class reusable rocket,” which allows SpaceX to spend less on the rocket per mission.


The “4” of Inspiration4

Below are short biographies of the four civilian crewmembers that launched into space aboard Inspiration4, often referred to as the “4” of Inspiration4. Each crew member represents one of the core values of any space mission.


Leadership – Jared Isaacman

Jared Isaacman is the founder and CEO of Shift4 payments, a company responsible for integrated payment processing solutions. He started his company in 1999 from the basement of his family’s house at only 16 years old, and since has built it into a large technology company with over 1,200 employees. Isaacman is also an accomplished jet pilot and is rated to fly commercial and military aircraft. He currently holds several world records, including two Speed-Around-The-World flights in 2008 and 2009. He’s also flown in over 100 airshows as part of the Black Diamond Jet Team.

Born: Feb 11, 1983

Occupation: Founder/CEO of Draken International, Harbortouch, & Shift4 Payments

Spouse: Monica Isaacman


Hope – Hayley Arceneaux

Hayley Arceneaux is a pediatric cancer survivor from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. At only 10 years old, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. She sought treatment at St. Jude, which included surgery and chemotherapy. She has been in remission ever since, and she continues to inspire. In 2014, she earned her undergraduate degree in Spanish, and in 2016, she obtained her Physician Assistant degree. She now works at St. Jude, the place that saved her life, with cancer patients.

Born: Dec 4, 1991

Education: Southeastern Louisiana University

Occupation: Physician Assistant

Parents: Howard Arceneaux, Colleen Arceneaux

Siblings: Hayden Arceneaux


Generosity – Christopher Sembroski

Christopher Sembroski was always curious about outer space, always stargazing late at night. He’s a U.S. Space Camp counselor, and he conducted simulated space shittle missions and supported STEM-based education to inspire young minds to explore these areas and find their passions. After serving in the U.S. Air Force and maintaining a fleet of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, he earned a B.S. in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He now works in the aerospace industry.

Born: Aug 28, 1979


Prosperity – Sian Proctor

Dr. Sian Proctor is a geoscientist, explorer, and science communication specialist with a lifelong passion for space exploration. She is an analog astronaut – meaning she conducts activities in simulated space conditions – and she completed four analog missions. She encourages people to use their unique passions and strengths to inspire others using her slogan, Space2inspire. She has a pilot license, is SCUBA certified, and loves exploring Earth. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science, an M.S. in Geology, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction in science education.

Born: Mar 28, 1970

Education: Edinboro University of Pennsylvania & Arizona State University.

Occupation: American Geology Professor, Science Communicator


The Future of Manned Space Missions

The Inspiration4 mission demonstrated to the world that not just astronauts, but also citizens can be launched into space and experience microgravity. This expands the space sector significantly, opening space travel up to the non-astronaut portion of the world population. As more civilian missions take place and technology continues to improve, they will decrease in cost, and more citizens will be able to fly to space. Who knows, someday you and your children might fly to space.