Inspiration4's Resilience Splashes Down Off Florida Coast After World's First All-Civilian Crew Orbits Earth

The Inspiration4 crew splashed down off the coast of Florida on Saturday evening, three days after the team of civilians became the first to orbit Earth

Inspiration4 launch
Inspiration4 launch. Photo: SpaceX

The four-person crew of Inspiration4 has officially made history as the world's first all-civilian crew to orbit earth.

Following the group's three-day mission, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Resilience splashed down safely off the coast of Florida on Saturday at approximately 7:07 p.m. local time.

"Thanks so much SpaceX. That was a heck of a ride for us," billionaire and mission commander Jared Isaacman said upon landing. "And we're just getting started."

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, also shared his excitement about the successful mission on Twitter, writing, "Congratulations @Inspiration4x!!!!"

The Inspiration4 mission launched Wednesday at 8:02 p.m. local time from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, taking off from the historic Launch Complex 39A, the departure point for Apollo and Space Shuttle missions.

After a contest advertised during Super Bowl LV in February, the final members of the crew were announced in late March, and together, they took the capsule higher into space than anyone has gone in nearly 15 years.

Isaacman, the founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, contracted SpaceX for the flight in February to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, where he donated $100 million.

Everyone who donated to St. Jude in February was entered into a random drawing for a seat on Resilience, as part of Isaacman's goal to raise a total of $200 million for the pediatric treatment and research facility.

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"I truly want us to live in a world 50 or 100 years from now where people are jumping in their rockets like the Jetsons and there are families bouncing around on the moon with their kid in a spacesuit," Isaacman, 38, told The Associated Press at the time. "I also think if we are going to live in that world, we better conquer childhood cancer along the way."

Hayley Arceneaux, physician assistant and former patient at St. Jude, was selected as the flight's chief medical officer in late February. After being diagnosed at age 10 with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that typically affects the arms or the legs, she had surgery to replace part of her femur with an internal prosthesis that could be expanded over time without additional surgery. Arceneaux, 29, is the first person with a prosthesis to go to space.

"The one thing that I'm most excited about this mission is that I'm going up with a big rod in my leg," she told PEOPLE, explaining that she had dreams of becoming an astronaut when she was a child. "I could have never have been an astronaut until this mission because I would have had to have been physically perfect, and I don't fit into that category. I love that this mission is changing that."

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Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, explorer and science communication specialist who is based in Tempe, Arizona, had a lifelong dream of going to space before Inspiration4 made her the first Black woman to serve as a pilot in space. She was a finalist in the NASA astronaut selection process in 2009, and her father worked at the NASA tracking station during the Apollo missions.

She said she was most looking forward to seeing Earth from space. "That is absolutely the golden ticket moment," Proctor, 51, told PEOPLE. "But I'm also thinking about being a teacher in space, and how I can share that message, and as an artist — to be able to draw and paint and write poetry and share the experience in that realm, too."

Christopher Sembroski, a father of two, data engineer and "self-declared space nerd" based in Seattle, lucked into the final spot after a friend won the drawing but was unable to go, giving Sembroski, 41, his seat. "It was just an unreal moment of overwhelming shock," he told PEOPLE. "So surreal."

"For this crew to not be professional astronauts, to have us all be completely civilians and to take this mission into space, it's a huge symbol of opening up the space frontier to everyone and making that dream come true for so many more people," Sembroski added. "It really makes it feel like it's attainable."

The four members of the crew represent the mission's four pillars: leadership (Isaacman), hope (Arceneaux), prosperity (Proctor) and generosity (Sembroski).

Ahead of Wednesday's launch, the Inspiration4 crew received "commercial astronaut training by SpaceX on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, zero gravity, and other forms of stress testing," according to SpaceX.

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