The four crew members who will be riding on Inspiration4 may be referred to as commercial astronauts, but they’re not actually professional astronauts at all. So who will be flying the SpaceX craft from takeoff to landing? It won’t be the crew. In fact, the entire trip is automated.
The Crew Members Include a Pilot Who Set a World Record & the First Black Female Spacecraft Pilot
The crew members are Hayley Arceneaux, Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski.
Isaacman is the commander of the trip and he’s also a pilot, KNKX reported. He started taking flying lessons in 2004 and in 2009, Isaacman set a world record for the fasted light jet flight around the world, CNBC reported. He beat the previous record by about 20 hours. When he owned a company called Draken International that trained fighter pilots, he was allowed to fly a number of military airplanes like the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk.
Proctor is the mission pilot, Space.com reported. Going to space was a long-time dream for her. She applied three times to join NASA’s astronaut corps and even participated in NASA’s simulated Mars missions, KNKX reported. Today, she will be the first Black female pilot of a spacecraft, Space Flight Insider reported. She represents the “Prosperity” pillar of the mission, and will also be the fourth African American to travel into orbit. She’s a Major in the Civil Air Patrol’s Arizona wing, serving as an aerospace education officer.
The Entire Trip Is Automated
According to a SpaceX press release, the crew has undergone astronaut training that includes stress testing, operating in zero gravity, orbital mechanics, emergency preparedness, and partial- and full-mission simulations. So they’re definitely more than simply passengers on the flight.
The press release noted:
The mission is being targeted for the fourth quarter of this year. Arceneaux, Isaacman and the Inspiration4 crew will undergo commercial astronaut training by SpaceX on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, including a specific focus on orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, zero gravity, and other forms of stress testing. They will receive emergency preparedness training, spacesuit and spacecraft ingress and egress exercises, as well as partial- and full-mission simulations. The mission will launch from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and will be carefully monitored at every step by SpaceX mission control as the spacecraft orbits the planet every 90 minutes along a customized flight path. Upon conclusion of the multi-day journey, Dragon will reenter Earth’s atmosphere for a soft water landing off the coast of Florida.
However, the trip is pretty much all automated, Click Orlando reported. The four crew members will mostly just be able to enjoy the ride while automation controls the flight from when it launches all the way to the landing. They do have the option of manually taking over controls if there’s some type of malfunction, and they can maneuver the spaceship with a control that resembles a joystick.
The crew has spent about seven months training on what to do if something does go wrong, Click Orlando reported. Docking and landing are typically automated even when NASA astronauts fly the SpaceX dragon.
The misison will circle Earth for three days at an altituted that is even higher than the International Space Station, Space.com reported.