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A Mission Within A Mission

On September 18th at 6:06 p.m. CST the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience landed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Although billionaire-funded, private spaceflight has already been in the news this year with Virgin Galactic’s July 11th flight of founder Richard Branson and employees and Blue Origin’s July 20th flight of Jeff Bezos and three other passengers, this flight was uniquely special because it marked the world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight to orbit and was part of a massive fundraising effort for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

American billionaire businessman, pilot and commercial astronaut, Jared Isaacman, purchased the flight from SpaceX in order to raise $200 million for childhood cancer research. Isaacman was joined by Hayley Arceneaux, a physician's assistant and childhood cancer survivor; Chris Sembroski, a data engineer; and Sian Proctor, a geoscientist and community college professor. The four citizens made up the Inspiration4 crew and their flight marked the first time that a spacecraft carried humans into space without any professional astronauts on board.

“I think if orbital space flight is just an exclusive domain of a couple of countries in the select few, I don’t know how far we’re going to get,” Isaacman, 38, said in an NBC interview.

The mission completed several historic firsts, including the:

  • First all-civilian human spaceflight to orbit

  • First black female spacecraft pilot

  • Youngest American in space

  • First person to fly to space with a prosthetic

  • Farthest flight for a human spaceflight since the Hubble missions

  • First time SpaceX has operated three Dragons in space

  • First free-flight of a Dragon spacecraft on a human spaceflight mission

  • Largest contiguous window ever flown in space

  • First splashdown of a Dragon crew in the Atlantic Ocean

  • First thrice-flown Falcon 9 booster to launch a human spaceflight mission

A space "selfie" of the Inspiration4 crew in the Dragon's cupola

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