October 2021

The First All-Civilian Spaceflight


The crew of Inspiration4, (from left to right) Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, prepare for launch.

On September 15, 2021, the Inspiration4 mission launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the first civilian spaceflight in history. Civilians are people not in the military. Jarred Isaacman commanded the spaceflight. The crew included Hayley Arcenaux, Chris Sembroski, and Sian Proctor.

The Inspiration4 crew orbited Earth for three days. One goal of the mission was to understand the impact of spaceflight on the human body. The crew completed tests and observations before and during spaceflight. It is hoped that this research will help improve future spaceflights.

Another mission goal was to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through fundraising. Isaacman gave the organization an initial gift of $100 million. The crew is hoping the Inspiration4 mission will raise an additional $100 million in donations by February 2022. So far $50 million—about half of this amount—has already been met.

Isaacman selected SpaceX for the Inspriation4 mission. SpaceX is a private spaceflight company founded by Elon Musk. You may also know Elon Musk as head of the electric automobile maker Tesla. Other private spaceflight companies include Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin. These companies develop reusable spacecraft for commercial, or business, uses. They are also part of a new space tourism industry, focused on recreational space travel.

The Inspiration4 mission achieved several notable milestones. It was the first space mission completed entirely by civilian space travelers. It also helped set a record for the number of people in space in a year. Inspiration4 raised the number of people in space to 14—passing the record of 13 set in 2009. Haley Arceneaux became the first person with a prosthetic body part to go to space. As a child, she had metal rods inserted in the bones of her left leg as part of treatment for cancer. At age 29, Arceneaux was also the youngest American to go to space.

Image credit: ©EyePress/NewsCom
Question 1
Which of the following was NOT a crew member of the Inspiration 4 mission?

Question 2
How much money does the Inspiration4 crew hope to raise for St. Jude Children’s hospital?

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