Photo credit: HT Tech
Photo credit: HT Tech

SpaceX Inspiration4: Changing the Game

January 19, 2022

SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic are three of the biggest private aerospace companies that are spearheading the new space race. They are developing technology for reusable rockets and spacecraft and are also working towards flying civilians to space on a regular basis. 

All three of these companies are able to develop this new technology quicker and more efficiently than ever before because they are all founded by billionaires and aren’t restricted by the government like NASA. SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk (Tesla), Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos (Amazon), and Virgin Galactic by Richard Branson (Virgin Mobile).

Elon Musk’s long term goal for SpaceX is to reach Mars. He believes that the only way for humans to not go extinct is to become a multi-planet species and live on both Earth and Mars. To reach this goal, SpaceX has been developing reusable rockets to make the cost more efficient and has been creating rockets that don’t need a pilot and can be flown completely from the ground.

On July 20, 2021, Blue Origin sent four civilians into orbit. The spacecraft was also occupied by the pilots controlling the rocket. 

On September 15, 2021, SpaceX launched Inspiration4 and also sent four civilians to space, but this time, the craft was controlled completely from the ground. Inspriation4 was something that has never been done before: four civilians orbiting Earth for three days with no professional astronaut there to help.  

Billionaire Jared Isaacman bought the flight from SpaceX not only as an opportunity to send civilians to space, but also as a fundraising project. The goal of the mission was to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Isaacman wanted to do the fundraiser to spread hope and to contribute to the lifesaving work to help children diagnosed with cancer. He enlisted Hayley Arceneaux, Chris Sembroski, and Dr. Sian Proctor to do the mission with him. The four crew members all represented their own mission pillar: leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity. 

Isaacman is the founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments. He is also a jet pilot and flies commercial and military aircraft. From working as a U.S. Space Camp counselor to serving in the U.S. Air Force, Chris Sembroski has always worked in the aerospace industry. Dr. Sian Proctor is a geoscientist and science communication specialist. She has been a professor at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona for 20 years. While all of these passengers are very impressive, Hayley Arceneaux has the most inspiring of the four stories. 

When Hayley was 10, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. With nowhere else to go, she and her family went to St. Jude. She was able to successfully beat her cancer after a lot of treatment. Hayley had to get an experimental prosthetic put into her knee so that she was still able to walk. She went on to become a Physician Assistant at St. Jude and works with leukemia and lymphoma patients. At 29 years old, Hayley is the youngest American to ever go to space and was the first person in space with a prosthetic. 

The crew trained for five months to prepare for their trip into space. They climbed Mount Rainier, did a 30-hour simulation inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft, took a zero gravity plane ride, and much more. After a very successful launch, the crew spent three days in orbit circling Earth. After three days, the craft safely splashed back down on Earth in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast. Inspiration4 and its crew are a reminder to always reach for the stars! 

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