Before splashing down again on Sept. 18, the Inspiration4 crew of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Resilience shared a once-in-a-lifetime experience; seeing Earth from space.
The Resilience capsule was specially designed with the civilian crew in mind; the nose of the capsule was outfitted with a glass dome, or cupola, allowing the passengers to see Earth from space in panoramic view. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said, “it’s probably [the] most “in space” you could possibly feel by being in a glass dome,” according to the Daily Mail.
In the video SpaceX shared of footage taken by crew member Sian Proctor, jaws literally drop when the cupola is opened. One crew member spits out some astonished expletives, while crew member Hayley Arceneaux makes a unique face at the first sight of Earth.
The Crew Dragon Resilience launched on Sept. 16 from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The Inspiration4 crew orbited 364 miles above the Earth’s surface, the highest orbit since a Hubble Telescope mission in 1999. They returned to Earth on Sept. 18 without issue.
Meet the All-Civilian SpaceX Crew
The history-making, 4 person crew consisted of Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Chris Sembroski, and Hayley Arceneaux.
Isaacman served as pilot and commander of the Resilience. He founded his own point of sale and payment processing company in 2005, eventually becoming CEO. He funded the trip in a deal with SpaceX as a way of opening the skies up for everybody. “I think if orbital space flight is just the exclusive domain of a couple of countries and a select few,” he said of the mission, “I don’t know how far we’re gonna get.”
Sian Proctor is a pilot, entrepreneur, artist, and educator. She started a “space art” website called Space2Inspire and applied to the NASA astronaut corps 3 times.
Chris Sembroski initially wasn’t chosen to go on the mission; instead, his friend was. But the friend gave up their golden ticket, giving Sembroski the chance of a lifetime. He served as mission specialist, helping with payload and communications.
Hayley Arceneaux, taking on the role of medical officer on the mission, shared the most about her time leading up to launch by releasing diaries she wrote during the training process. A physician assistant at St. Jude’s Research Hospital and a survivor of childhood cancer, the mission hit close to home for Arceneaux; the Inspiration4 launch raised money for St. Jude’s cause with a $200 million goal.
“I was so honored and excited, especially because I work with a lot of these awesome kids every day,” she said. “Over three different classes, with kids aged 5 to 10, I told them about the mission, but also kept saying, ‘I’m doing this, and you can too.'”