The First All-Civilian Spaceflight

The Inspiration4 crew of (from left) Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux pose for the first day in space on Sept 17, 2021.

On September 15, 2021, the Inspiration4 mission launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spaceflight was the first orbital mission crewed entirely by civilians. Jarred Isaacman chartered and commanded the spaceflight. The rest of the crew included physician assistant Hayley Arcenaux, data engineer Chris Sembroski, and geoscientist and communication specialist Sian Proctor.

The crew orbited Earth for three days. Among the goals of the mission was to perform health research and experiments to understand the impact of spaceflight on the human body. The crew completed tests and observations before and during spaceflight and will continue to do so. It is hoped that this research will help improve future spaceflights. Another mission goal was to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by increasing awareness of the organization and through fundraising. Isaacman gave the organization an initial gift of $100 million and is hoping the Inspiration4 mission will raise an additional $100 million in donations by February 2022. So far $50 million—about half of the goal—has already been met.

Isaacman selected SpaceX for the Inspriation4 mission. SpaceX is a privately funded aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, who also co-founded electric automobile manufacturer Tesla. Other privately funded aerospace companies include Virgin Galactic—founded by Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines, and Blue Origin—founded by Jeff Bezos of These companies develop reusable spacecraft for commercial uses and are also part of a new space tourism industry, focused on providing opportunities for recreational space travel.

The Inspiration4 mission achieved several notable milestones. In addition to being the first space mission completed entirely by civilian space travelers, it 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. When she was a child, metal rods were inserted to replace parts of her bones in her left leg as part of treatment for bone cancer. At age 29, Arceneaux was also the youngest American to go to space.

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