Innovation

Inspiration4: History’s first all-civilian space mission in 20 images

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20. The Super Bowl is a strange place for a story about space to start, but that’s where a lot of people first heard of Inspiration4 via a commercial released a few days after the mission’s formal announcement.

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SpaceX

19. Jared Isaacman — a former pilot and CEO of Shift4 Payments — was the first crew member announced for the first-ever all-civilian space crew.

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images

18. In addition to bankrolling Inspiration4, Isaacman donated $100,000 to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. The mission set a goal of raising another $100,000 for the hospital, partially by raffling off two of Inspiration4’s remaining three seats.

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17. The anonymous winner of one of those seats declined the once-in-a-lifetime trip. Instead, they donated it to data engineer and Air Force veteran Chris Sembroski.

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16. Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, science communicator, and former astronaut candidate, was chosen for the mission in a Shark Tank-style entrepreneur competition.

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15. Hayley Arceneaux joined the mission as a representative of St. Jude, where she works as a physician assistant. As a child, she was treated for cancer at the hospital.

14. Once the crew was announced, they began a seven-month training process, which included climbing Mt. Rainier and getting used to both zero-g flight and high g-forces to simulate takeoff.

Jared Isaacman

13. As training continued, SpaceX prepared the rocket that would carry the Inspiration4 crew to space.

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Inspiration4

12. Inspiration4 was powered by a Falcon 9 rocket. For years, the SpaceX team has worked to make the Falcon 9 reusable for more flights. It crossed the 10-launch milestone this year.

Inspiration4

11. The Falcon 9 carried a modified Crew Dragon capsule — dubbed Resilience — where the Inspiration4 astronauts would spend their trip.

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10. Since Inspiration4 wasn’t heading to the International Space Station, its Crew Dragon’s docking port was replaced with a cupola window.

9. Once the crew was in orbit, that window would offer some spectacular views of Earth.

SpaceX

SpaceX

8. By mid-September, the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon were assembled on NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A. That’s the same launchpad that sent Apollo 11 into space in 1969.

7. Launch day arrived on September 15

CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

6. During a live webcast, Inspiration4 took flight.

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5. Just after launch, Arceneaux took Inspiration4’s custom zero-g indicator for a walk. Modeled after St. Jude’s therapy dogs, replicas of the plush toy were also sold to raise money for the hospital.

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4. Inspiration4’s crew was treated to incredible views as they circled Earth roughly every 90 minutes.SpaceX
3. Arceneaux and Isaacman show how the crew studied spaceflight’s effects on their bodies.SpaceX
2. After three days in space, Inspiration4 ended in a splashdown off the Florida coast.SpaceX

1. Shortly after landing, the crew learned of the mission’s success back on Earth — beating its $200 million fundraising goal for St. Jude.

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