SpaceX's all-civilian Inspiration4 crew speak out on historic space mission in 1st interview since splashdown

According to the Inspiration4 crew, they believe that the variety of their astronauts inspired others. They also told NBC News that their spaceflight experience has changed their lives forever.
Monday, September 20th, was the crew's first interview after three days in space aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon. The Dragon orbits Earth at a higher altitude than the International Space Station.

SpaceX's first all-civilian mission, Inspiration4, was launched in April 2005. Jared Isaacman, a billionaire and crew commander, funded it. He wanted to raise at most $200 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Also to fly a crew that reflected diverse values. Since landing on Saturday, Sept. 18, the mission has already exceeded its fundraising goal.

Related: SpaceX's Inspiration4 private crew makes a historic splashdown off the Florida coast to return to Earth

SpaceX's Inspiration4 mission saw four private astronauts smile upon returning to Earth on September 18, 2021, to complete their historic three-day spaceflight aboard a Dragon spacecraft. (Image credit: John Kraus/Inspiration4)

After Virgin Galactic's July 11 flight with founder Richard Branson and his employees and Blue Origin's June 20 flight of Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, Inspiration4 was the third billionaire-funded flight this summer. Inspiration4 was different from other missions. It had a greater focus on charity than the others. The flight lasted three days, instead of just a few minutes or hours. Inspiration4 trained for six months instead of the 14 hours Blue Origin crew members reported to have spent.

According to a transcript provided by NBC, Isaacman, 38, stated that orbital space flight was "just an exclusive domain for a few countries in the select few", according to the transcript. Isaacman also praised SpaceX for trying to lower the cost of space access, "to make it easier for others, so that all of us can travel among the stars."

Pilot Sian Proctor was a geoscientist, four-time analog astronaut, and the first Black woman to hold that position in space. Proctor was also a finalist for the 2009 NASA astronaut selection. However, Proctor said that the Inspiration4 experience was the best possible way to reach space.

Talking to girls of colour, women of color in my experience, and even older women who think that the best of their lives has passed them by, [shows] that there is still much to learn and a lot of exploration. Proctor, 51, told NBC that there was a lot to do.

Hayley Arceneaux was also onboard. She is a St. Jude physician assistant who was treated successfully for cancer there nearly 20 years ago. After being invited by Isaacman, Arceneaux (29 years old) was the first person to fly in space with a prosthesis. She spoke about the impact of looking at Earth through a large dome window in the spacecraft.

She said, "That last view from the cupola of the Earth made me emotionally because it was just too awe-inspiring. And I knew that I'd be thinking about it for the rest of my lives."

Arceneaux said that she considers herself to be an ordinary person when she was asked about her disability's impact on inspiring the public. She said, "I have had some difficulties in my life, but I believe everyone has in some manner." "I believe everyone has faced some difficulties and I hope people can see my story and realize that it is important to keep believing that there will be better times.

Chris Sembroski (former Space Camp counselor) said that the experience of spaceflight transformed the crew for the better. He said that each of them was changed in a way they didn't anticipate. "It was seeing the Earth in a new way that allowed me to realize there is so much more to see in person. These places are what I must explore and go to.

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