CAP CANAVERAL, Florida – The four people on SpaceX’s first private flight are pretty ordinary, down-to-earth guys who got together by chance.
They will circle the Earth for three days at an unusually high altitude – alone without a professional escort – before landing off the coast of Florida.
Meet the crew taking space tourism to new heights after Wednesday night’s launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center:
JARED ISAACMAN, SPONSOR
Isaacman got rich with the payment processing business he started in his parents’ basement after leaving high school. He then went to an aviation college, took to the skies in fighter jets, and launched Draken International to provide military-style training on tactical aircraft. Space waved, and the contractor from Easton, Pa. Bought an entire flight from SpaceX to circle the Earth. The 38-year-old considers flying in air shows, his other hobby, much more dangerous. “I don’t see myself as a risk taker or a thrill-seeker,” says Isaacman, whose daughters are 7 and 5 years old. Attach it to a very valid cause. This time it’s St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Isaacman has pledged $ 100 million to St. Jude and is seeking an additional $ 100 million in public donations. To get the message across that space is for “ordinary people,” Isaacman donated one of four capsule seats to St. Jude and held a raffle for the other two.
HAYLEY ARCENEAUX, ST. REP OF JUDE
Now a medical assistant in St. Jude, Arceneaux was diagnosed with bone cancer at a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 10. To save his left leg, St. Jude replaced his knee and part of his thigh bone, implanting a titanium rod. She is the first person to wear a prosthesis in space and, at 29, the youngest American. She was St. Jude’s escape choice in January as the hospital’s representative in space. Arceneaux followed his fellow travelers in training, even as they trudged up Washington’s Mount Rainier in the snow. Its only compromise: SpaceX has adjusted its capsule seat to relieve knee pain. “I’m so excited to open up space travel to so many, so many different types of people and those who aren’t physically perfect,” Arceneaux said. She will speak with St. Jude patients from orbit, reminding them that their dreams, too, can come true. She took her late father’s St. Jude tie, a precious possession. “I’m so grateful for my journey with cancer because it gave me the love of life, just the zest for life and the confidence to say ‘yes’ to opportunities,” she says. “It is the greatest honor of my life.”
CHRIS SEMBROSKI, WINNER OF THE DRAW
Sembroski, an Air Force veteran and data engineer for Lockheed Martin in Everett, Wash., Has always viewed himself as the space thruster behind the scenes, helping educate the public. He shot model rockets in college and worked as a space camp advisor. So he considered it a “crazy fantasy” when he saw the Super Bowl commercial in February announcing the space seat draw and made a donation to participate. He didn’t win, but a college friend did, and he offered Sembroski his seat on the flight. Sembroski says he was more low-key than the others when he found out, “There was just no word coming out. Since then I have become much more enthusiastic.” After six months of training, Sembroski, 42, has “no worries, no worries, maybe a little bit of the jitters” of singing and playing an orbiting ukulele that will be auctioned off in support of St. Jude. His teacher wife, Erin, is “more than worried about this for both of us.” They have two daughters, aged 3 and 9. Sembroski says he will reflect on the historical nature of the flight – and its role in it – once back on Earth.
SIAN PROCTOR, BUSINESS WINNER
Proctor applied to NASA three times to become an astronaut. The 51-year-old community college geologist and professor from Tempe, Ariz., Reached the final more than a decade ago. After joining NASA, she set her sights on private space flights. But as 2021 loomed, she thought she had aged – until she learned of the existence of Isaacman’s space contest for her clients. She had started creating space-themed artwork when the coronavirus pandemic hit and turned to Isaacman’s Shift4 company to sell her paintings. When asked on the eve of the launch if she was nervous, she said her only worry was that “this moment would never come in my life.” As the fourth black woman in space after three NASA astronauts, Proctor hopes to inspire other minority women. “As we move towards the Moon and Mars and beyond, we are writing the tale of manned spaceflight right now,” focusing on diversity, says Proctor. “We’re on Starship Earth and we want to bring everyone with us.” She caught the space virus early on: Her late father worked at the NASA tracking station in Guam during the Apollo moon landings.
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