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Christopher Sembroski and Dr. Sian Proctor will join Hayley Arceneaux and Jared Isaacman on the Inspiration4 mission

By Rachel DeSantis
March 30, 2021 07:50 AM
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The crew headed to outer space as part of the first all-civilian mission may come from different walks of life, but all have one thing in common: a passion for all things out of this world.

The Inspiration4 mission isn't set to take off until this fall, but its four-person crew — the final two members of which were announced on Tuesday — is already preparing for liftoff.

Hayley Arceneaux, a 29-year-old cancer survivor and physician assistant at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, was previously announced as the mission's chief medical officer, and on Tuesday, Christopher Sembroski, 41, and Dr. Sian Proctor, 51, were revealed to be joining her.

Also on board is billionaire Jared Isaacman, the Shift4 Payments CEO who is sponsoring the mission after buying a private flight from Elon Musk's SpaceX.

SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX

The crew on Tuesday will be introduced at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A, where SpaceX's Falcon 9 will launch them to space aboard a Dragon spacecraft no earlier than Sept. 15.

SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX

"We're pushing boundaries in a number of areas," Isaacman, 38, tells PEOPLE. "We're going farther than the space station as part of the mission, and we're bringing along people like Hayley, who will have the first prothesis in space."

jared isaacman
Jared Isaacman
| Credit: PATRICK T. FALLON/Getty Images

For Sembroski and Proctor, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the Inspiration4 mission came thanks to donations to St. Jude in February — anyone who donated during the month was entered into a random drawing for a seat.

SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX

Sembroski, a father of two based in Seattle, tells PEOPLE that he snagged his spot after a friend who'd won the sweepstakes but was unable to go offered it to him.

"It was just an unreal moment of overwhelming shock," he says of the moment he realized he'd be headed to space. "So surreal."

A data engineer and "self-declared space nerd," Sembroski says he's loved outer space since he was a child, and spent years stargazing from the roof of his high school before launching high-powered model rockets in college. He stands for the mission pillar of generosity.

RELATED VIDEO: 29-Year-Old St. Jude PA, Cancer Survivor Chosen for First All-Civilian Space Trip Aboard SpaceX

An Air Force veteran, Sembroski also served as a U.S. Space Camp counselor, and in college volunteered with ProSpace, a "grassroots lobbying effort that promoted legislation in Washington, D.C. to help open space travel and allow companies like SpaceX to exist," according to a press release.

"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," he says. "It really makes it feel like it's attainable."

Also along for the ride is Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, explorer and science communication specialist who is based in Tempe, Arizona and is currently working as the Open Educations Resource Coordinator for the Maricopa Community College District.

Born in Guam to a father who worked at the NASA tracking station during the Apollo missions, Proctor — who represents the mission pillar of prosperity — says heading to space herself has been a lifelong dream.

"Hard work and perseverance can lead to these impossible dreams possible," she tells PEOPLE. "This is an experience that I've dreamt about and now I'm actually getting to experience it."

Proctor — who was a finalist in the NASA astronaut selection process in 2009, and who also has her pilot license and a SCUBA certification — says she's most looking forward to seeing earth from space.

"That is absolutely the golden ticket moment," she says. "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."

The crew is rounded out by Isaacson and Arceneaux, a Louisiana native who tells PEOPLE she's thrilled to be representing what she hopes will be a sea change in space travel.

"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 says. "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."

29-Year-Old St. Jude's Frontline Worker Hayley Arceneaux Is Heading to Space
Credit: Courtesy St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Arceneaux is a cancer survivor who was treated at St. Jude's, where she works now, for osteosarcoma as a child. She received a call from Isaacman on Jan. 5 asking her to come along for the ride.

"Inspiration4 is completed by the other mission pillars of Leadership, represented by Isaacman, and Hope, represented by Arceneaux," a press release explained.

Arceneaux says she wants to video call cancer patients from outer space.

"When I learned I was going to fill the Hope seat, I just felt like it was coming full circle, because hope has been the word I've always held on to, ever since I was in treatment," she says. "It is a responsibility in every way to represent hope. I want this mission to show kids going through cancer, for survivors, to dream big, and that the sky's not even the limit."

"All crew members will undergo commercial astronaut training by SpaceX on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft — the very same Dragon spacecraft currently attached to the International Space Station supporting the Crew-1 mission," Inspiration4 organizers said. "Once Dragon returns the Crew-1 astronauts back home to Earth, the SpaceX team will inspect and refurbish the spacecraft ahead of the Inspiration4 mission."

—Reporting by KATIE GREEN and SUSAN YOUNG