SpaceX to Make History with Launch of All-Civilian Inspiration4 Crew: Here's How to Watch

For the first time ever, four private citizens will launch into orbit without a professional astronaut on board

Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski Inspiration4 crew
The Inspiration4 crew (L-R): Jared Isaacman, Dr. Sian Proctor, Hayley Arceneaux and Chris Sembroski . Photo: JOHN KRAUS/© 2021 Inspiration4 2021/Netflix/AFP via Getty

SpaceX is about to make history with its latest mission.

The Elon Musk-founded company is sending four private citizens into space Wednesday, marking the first time a crew will launch into orbit without a professional astronaut on board.

The four civilians embarking on mission Inspiration4 are Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments and commander of the flight; Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital; Chris Sembroski, an aerospace data engineer; and Sian Proctor, a pilot and geoscientist, per NPR.

Isaacman, a 38-year-old billionaire, has paid for the entire trip and donated the three seats to his companions, though he hasn't revealed exactly how much it cost, the Associated Press reported. His journey into space follows the other billionaire space tours that made headlines this summer — both Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos went up into orbit on their own respective trips.

Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski Inspiration4 crew
JOHN KRAUS/© 2021 Inspiration4 2021/Netflix/AFP via Getty

A five-hour window for the launch starts on Wednesday at 8:02 p.m. EST, although the exact launch time is not locked in stone, per The New York Times. However, weather is predicted to be favorable for the launch, which will be broadcast live on the SpaceX YouTube channel and on Netflix's YouTube channel.

In the event that the crew is not able to launch during the time window, they will try again on Thursday night, according to the Times.

The four civilians will spend three days in space, ending their journey off the coast of Florida. While the mission will be similar to SpaceX's previous flights to the International Space Station, the Crew Dragon is taking a different path by not docking at the orbiting lab, per NBC News. Instead, the capsule will circle the planet 15 times every day at an altitude of about 360 miles high above the current positions of the space station and Hubble Space Telescope, according to SpaceX.

Wednesday's launch will fundraise for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, with Isaacman pledging $100 million to the pediatric care center, with sights set on a goal of raising $200 million for the cause.

Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski Inspiration4 crew
JOHN KRAUS/© 2021 Inspiration4 2021/Netflix/AFP via Getty

Arxeneaux, a childhood cancer survivor, works at St. Jude, where she was once treated. Procter won her spot on the spacecraft through a Shift4 Payments contest, and Sembroski secured his seat in a St. Jude charity drive.

The civilians have been training for months, undergoing simulations and exercises since March to prepare for Wednesday's launch. They've completed centrifuge training, zero-gravity plane training, and altitude training. They've also spent plenty of time in the classroom and undergone medical testing, per NPR.

When they launch into space, the crew will be taking some special items with them, many of which will be auctioned off to raise money for the hospital.

Joining the crew onboard will be 66 pounds of hops that will later be used by Sam Adams to brew the Inspiration4 mission's official beer, plus a ukulele played by Sembroski in space, and a TIME magazine cover of the Crew Dragon crew.

In her final diary entry for PEOPLE before takeoff, Arceneaux said she felt "so calm and excited" ahead of the adventure.

"I expected to be nervous at this point. And it's not that it hasn't sunk in — I'm VERY aware that I'm about to go to space — but I'm feeling so peaceful about it," she wrote.

"It's definitely not lost on me how lucky I am to be where I am," Arceneaux added.

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