The all-civilian crew of SpaceX‘s Inspiration4 mission described their three-day trip to space as ‘awe-inspiring’ and ’emotional’ in their first interview since returning to Earth.
The four crew members – Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski – told NBC’s Lester Holt on Monday that memories of the trip would be with them for the rest of their lives.
‘That last view of the Earth in the cupola made me emotional, because it was just so awe-inspiring, and I knew I’d be thinking about that for the rest of my life,’ Arceneaux, 29, said in the interview.
The all-civilian crew of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission said the three-day trip to space was ‘awe-inspiring’ and ’emotional’ in their first interview since returning to Earth
‘That last view of the Earth in the cupola made me emotional, because it was just so awe-inspiring, and I knew I’d be thinking about that for the rest of my life,’ Hayley Arceneaux (pictured) said
‘Our name is Inspiration,’ Proctor added. ‘To be able to capture that view and bring it back to Earth is special.’
Proctor, 51, made history as the first black woman to serve as a spacecraft pilot and said her experience was meaningful to her, after she was a finalist to become a NASA astronaut in 2009, but was not selected.
‘Being able to talk to girls of color, and women of color, about my experience, and even older women who sometimes when you think the best part of your life has passed you by as you’ve gotten older, that there’s still a lot to learn, a lot to explore, a lot to do,’ Proctor explained.
‘It’s just amazing. This is the best way that I could ever imagine going to space with these individuals in this way with SpaceX. I’m thrilled.’
‘Our name is Inspiration,’ Sian Proctor (pictured) added. ‘To be able to capture that view and bring it back to Earth is special’
Arceneaux, who is a St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital physician assistant and was treated for bone cancer at 10 years old, added that she hopes the mission will inspire people, despite the fact she thinks of herself as an ‘ordinary person.’
‘It’s hard for me to wrap my head around because I think of myself as an ordinary person, but I hope that people can relate to me,’ she said.
‘I’ve had some difficulties in life, but I think everyone has in some way,’ she continued.
‘I think everyone has had to overcome something, and I just I hope that people can look at my story and know that holding on to hope, that there will be better days, is so important.’
Last month, Arceneaux gave details of her six-month long training, which included centrifuge training, studying and ‘spending lot of time in the simulator.’
The crew began their journey at 4:07pm ET on September 15, when the four individuals emerged from Hangar X from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was also present to see the crew off and appeared to be just as excited as the team going to space on board a modified Crew Dragon module.
One of the modifications was the cupola, or giant window, that let the four astronauts have a panoramic view of space in the modified Crew Dragon craft.
When SpaceX first showed off the glass dome in March, Musk said the window would give the crew the ‘probably most ‘in space’ … feel’ they could have in a glass dome
The Inspiration4 crew splashed downed in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida on September 18 shortly after 7 pm, bringing an end to their historic three-day mission orbiting Earth, 360 miles above the surface.
The Dragon capsule descended towards Earth on four chutes before gently landing in the water as the module floated on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
Four main chutes open as the Inspiration4 capsule descends back to earth after a three-day mission in space
The Inspiration4 capsule carrying four civilian crew members makes a safe return to earth as it lands in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday
Although this is not the first time civilians have traveled to space, Inspiration4 is the first mission manned solely by civilians.
‘Each of us have been changed in a way that maybe we didn’t expect,’ said Sembroski, 41, who served as Mission Specialist.
‘Each of us have been changed in a way that maybe we didn’t expect,’ said Chris Sembroski (pictured), 41, who served as Mission Specialist
‘And for me it was being able to see the Earth in a way that made me realize there is so much to see in person that I need to go and find those places and explore more.’
An ‘accomplished jet pilot’ according to Inspiration4’s website, Isaacman, the commander of the mission, is funding the trip in a private deal made with SpaceX.
He said he wants the mission to show that space can be for everyone and not just a select few.
‘I think if orbital space flight is just the exclusive domain of a couple of countries and a select few, I don’t know how far we’re gonna get,’ Isaacman, 38, said.
‘I think having organizations like SpaceX that are working very hard to drive down the cost of spaceflight, to make it more accessible for others so that all of us can go out and journey among the stars,’ Jared Isaacman (pictured), said
‘So I think having organizations like SpaceX that are working very hard to drive down the cost of spaceflight, to make it more accessible for others so that all of us can go out and journey among the stars.’
In addition to showing that space can be more accessible, the trip functioned as a fundraise for St. Jude, with Isaacman donating $100 million of his own money.
SpaceX CEO Musk tweeted that he would donate $50 million as well, as the Memphis-based hospital seeks to raise $200 million
Musk tweeted that he would donate $50 million as well, as the Memphis-based hospital seeks to raise $200 million.
To date, Inspiration4 has raised $60.4 million in donations and commitments.
Meet the Inspiration4 crew
Jared Isaacman, 38
Jared Isaacman, 38
Issacman grew up in New Jersey and started dabbling in computer technical support and repair when he was just 14 years old.
Two years later, he was offered a full time position and dropped out of high school to take the job – he later earned a GED.
In 2005, Issacman founded a retail payment processing company named United Bank Card, which was later renamed Harbortouch, a point-of-sale payment company based in Pennsylvania.
He was the founding CEO and retained that role in 2015 with the company having ‘been profitable for over a decade.
By 2020, the company had been renamed Shift4 Payments, Isaacman became the CEO, and the company was processing $200 billion in payments annually.
Issacman piloted the craft and serve as spacecraft commander.
Hayley Arceneaux, 29
Hayley Arceneaux, 29
Arceneaux, who is from Tennessee, was the first winner of a seat aboard the craft, who will become the youngest American in space and the first to make the journey with a prosthesis.
At the age of 10, Arceneaux was treated for bone cancer and had surgery at St. Jude to replace her knee and get a titanium rod in her left thigh bone.
She wants to show her young patients and other cancer survivors that ‘the sky is not even the limit anymore.’
Sian Proctor, 51
Sian Proctor, 51
Proctor was revealed as a winner this past March.
She is an entrepreneur, educator, trained pilot and active voice in the space exploration community.
She was selected as the top entrant of an independently judged online business competition that attracted approximately 200 entries and was conducted by the eCommerce platform Shift4Shop.
And an independent panel of judges chose her space art website dubbed Space2inspire.
Proctor, who studied geology, applied three times to NASA’s astronaut corps, coming close in 2009, and took part in simulated Mars missions in Hawaii.
Chris Sembroski, 41
Chris Sembroski, 41
The last seat was awarded to Sembroski, who donated and entered the lottery but was not picked in the random drawing earlier this month — his friend was.
His friend declined to fly for personal reasons and offered the spot to Sembroski, who worked as a Space Camp counsellor in college and volunteered for space advocacy groups.
‘Just finding out that I’m going to space was an incredible, strange, surreal event,’ he said in March.
Sembroski served as the Mission Specialist and will help manage payload, science experiments, communications to mission control and more.