Called “the world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight mission to orbit,” Inspiration4 launched successfully from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 8:02:56 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. The three-day orbital flight, which is using SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 launch vehicle, was booked by Shift4 Payments founder and pilot Jared Isaacman earlier this year. As previously reported by AVweb, Isaacman elected to lead the mission and donate the other three seats as part of an effort to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by February 2022.
“Our crew carries the responsibility and importance of this mission as we prepare to blast off,” Isaacman said before the launch. “We have been well-prepared for the challenges ahead of us the next three days and look forward to sharing our experience with the world as we continue to bring attention to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital here on earth.”
Along with Isaacman, Inspiration4 is crewed by physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and pediatric cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux, Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer Chris Sembroski and geoscientist, entrepreneur and pilot Dr. Sian Proctor. In the six months leading up to the launch, the crew underwent centrifuge training, Dragon simulations, observations of launch operations, Zero-G plane training and altitude training along with classroom, simulation and medical testing. The venture has raised more than $130 million to date.