The four would-be citizen astronauts poised to travel in a SpaceX rocket ship around the globe said yesterday they were eager for lift-off on the eve of their flight, feeling only “the good kind” of jitters.
“I was just worried that this moment would never come in my life. Let’s get going, let’s do it,” said Sian Proctor (51), a geoscience professor, artist and life-long space enthusiast.
Ms Proctor also disclosed she and her flightmates received a call from Michelle Obama to wish them well, an honour she said “would stay with me the rest of my life”.
The Inspiration4 foursome were due for lift-off at around 1am this morning (Irish time) from the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The orbital flight is expected to last about three days before splashdown.
Ms Proctor and her crewmates – billionaire e-commerce executive and jet pilot Jared Isaacman (38), physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux (29) and aerospace data engineer Chris Sembroski (42) – took reporters’ questions at a pre-launch briefing inside a SpaceX hangar.
Behind them, visible through the open doors, stood the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule designed to carry them to a targeted orbital altitude of 579km.
That is far beyond the inaugural astro-tourism flights made this summer by SpaceX rivals Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, which carried their respective billionaire founders – Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos – along for the ride.
Those sub-orbital trips, while high enough for their crews to experience moments of microgravity, were over in minutes.
The high-orbital flight planned for Inspiration4 carries greater risks, including more exposure to radiation in space, but the crew members professed the utmost confidence in SpaceX, the private California-based rocket company founded by Elon Musk.
Mr Isaacman is the mission’s originator and benefactor, having paid Mr Musk an undisclosed but presumably enormous sum to fly all four crew members into orbit.
Ms Arceneaux, a childhood bone cancer survivor who works with young lymphoma and leukaemia patients at St Jude Children’s Research Centre in Memphis – which the Inspiration4 mission was designed largely to promote – said she was “just so excited”.
“Any jitters are the good kind,” she added.
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