Chris Sembroski of Everett during an interview for the Netflix series “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space.” (Netflix)

Chris Sembroski of Everett during an interview for the Netflix series “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space.” (Netflix)

Follow Everett’s civilian astronaut as he journeys into space

Chris Sembroski is one of four aboard the SpaceX Inspiration4 orbital mission, scheduled for launch Wednesday.

Herald staff and Associated Press

If all goes according to plan, Wednesday will mark one small step for man, one giant leap for Christopher Sembroski of Everett.

The 42-year-old data engineer is to be launched into space with three other civilians aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket. There will be no professional astronauts aboard. Dragon spacecraft have flown humans only twice before.

Inspiration4 is billed as the the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit. They will blast off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center — at NASA’s legendary launch complex 39A — and spend about three days conducting experiments while orbiting the earth at an altitude of 357 miles, which is 100 miles higher than the International Space Station and just above the current position of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Crew

Sembroski was selected for the mission after an online sweepstakes to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. He didn’t actually win, but a friend from his college days did and gave him the slot. He’ll be joined by geoscientist Sian Proctor, 51, of Phoenix; childhood cancer survivor and physician’s assistant Hayley Arceneaux, 29, of Memphis, Tennessee; and billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman, 38, of Washington, New Jersey, who’s bankrolling the mission and serving as commander. While there are no professional astronauts flying with them, Isaacman is an experienced private pilot who can fly fighter jets.

Launch

The rocket was expected to lift off during a five-hour launch window that opens at 5:02 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday. The flight could be delayed by weather or a technical problem, though as of this writing there were no known issues. If there is a delay, another five-hour launch window occurs Thursday at 5:05 p.m. PDT.

The crew of the Inspiration4 orbital mission of SpaceX, from left: Chris Sembroski of Everett, Sian Proctor of Phoenix, Jared Isaacman of Washington, New Jersey, and Hayley Arceneaux of Memphis, Tennessee. (SpaceX)

The crew of the Inspiration4 orbital mission of SpaceX, from left: Chris Sembroski of Everett, Sian Proctor of Phoenix, Jared Isaacman of Washington, New Jersey, and Hayley Arceneaux of Memphis, Tennessee. (SpaceX)

How to watch

SpaceX produces its own TV coverage of missions like Inspiration4 and streams it live on YouTube, where it also posts replays. Cable news channels will likely closely follow the launch and landing.

Mission profile

Isaacman and SpaceX settled on three days as the sweet spot for orbiting the Earth. It gives him and his fellow passengers plenty of time to take in the views through a custom bubble-shaped window, take blood samples and conduct other medical research, and drum up interest for auction items to benefit the hospital.

While roomy for a capsule, the Dragon offers virtually no privacy; only a curtain shields the toilet. Unlike the space station and NASA’s old shuttles, there is no galley or sleeping compartments, or even separate work areas. As for food, they’ll chow down on cold pizza following liftoff. They’re also packing ready-to-eat, astronaut-style fare.

The crew of the Inspiration4 orbital mission of SpaceX on the Aug. 23, 2021, cover of Time magazine. From left, Hayley Arceneaux of Memphis, Tennessee, Sian Proctor of Phoenix, Chris Sembroski of Everett and Jared Isaacman of Washington, New Jersey. (Time)

The crew of the Inspiration4 orbital mission of SpaceX on the Aug. 23, 2021, cover of Time magazine. From left, Hayley Arceneaux of Memphis, Tennessee, Sian Proctor of Phoenix, Chris Sembroski of Everett and Jared Isaacman of Washington, New Jersey. (Time)

Netflix series

Time magazine put the crew on the cover of the magazine last month and has produced a series for Netflix, “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space,” which is ongoing and will conclude after the mission. In the series, Sembroski’s wife, Erin Duncan-Sembroski, a schoolteacher, said she won’t celebrate until splashdown.

Erin Duncan-Sembroski (right) and her husband, Chris Sembroski, embrace at the top of launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in a scene from the Netflix series “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space.” (Netflix)

Erin Duncan-Sembroski (right) and her husband, Chris Sembroski, embrace at the top of launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in a scene from the Netflix series “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space.” (Netflix)

Where to learn more

Stream the mission live on YouTube

Our profile on Chris Sembroski from April

Follow Sembroski’s journey on Twitter

Inspiration4’s website

Talk to us

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