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Why Inspiration4’s ‘all-civilian’ trip to orbit represents the dawn of a second space age

15 Sep 2021, 17:53 UTC
Why Inspiration4’s ‘all-civilian’ trip to orbit represents the dawn of a second space age
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Inspiration4 mission directors Scott Poteet (far left) and Todd Ericson (far right) flank the crew: Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, commander Jared Isaacman and Hayley Arceneaux. (Inspiration4 Photo / John Kraus)
Are they space tourists? Citizen spacefliers? All-civilian astronauts? Whatever you call them, the four teammates who are due to go into orbit today in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule require creating a new category.
“I know there’s controversy over what you should be called,” retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly told the foursome today in a tweet. “But when you strap into a rocket and launch into orbit, you can call yourself anything you want: astronot, astronut, astronaut — whatever.”
There’s Jared Isaacman, the billiionaire CEO of Shift4 Payments, who’s paying for the launch and is the mission commander … Hayley Arceneaux, the 29-year-old cancer survivor who’s due to become the youngest American to go into space … Sian Proctor, the professor and artist who’ll back up Isaacman as America’s first Black space pilot.
And then there’s Chris Sembroski, a former Air Force missile technician and Lockheed Martin engineer from Everett, Wash. Sembroski got his chance to train for the mission and climb onboard the Dragon when an old college buddy ...

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