Space has always been part of Dr Sian Proctor’s life since birth. Her father, the late Edward Langley Proctor Jr, was a contractor for NASA’s remote ground terminal in Guam, where she was born during the Apollo 11 era.
Proctor, a geoscientist, is one of the four amateur astronauts selected for the Inspiration4 private orbital spaceflight launched today.
It is the third flight aimed at eventually paving the way for paying customers to access space, following on from space tours by Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos earlier this year.
The Inspiration 4’s three-day trip around the Earth has been bankrolled by U.S. billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman, the founder of Shift4 Payments. He is traveling with Proctor and fellow space tourists Hayley Arceneaux and Chris Sembroski.
“When I got that call, that zoom, Jared was on there and he said that they picked me for the prosperity seat. I was going to space with him,” Proctor said in an interview pre-recorded for Netflix’s “Countdown” coverage. “My entire life has led up to this moment.”
The four non-professional astronauts are strapped into the Dragon capsule atop a 200-foot-tall SpaceX rocket that blasted them past the speed of sound and up to 17,500 miles per hour.
It launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County, Florida.
Proctor was born in Hagatna on March 28, 1970. After the Moon landings, Proctor’s family moved to Minnesota and later to various Northeastern states while her father changed jobs.
Her family moved to Fairport, New York when she was 14. Proctor received a BS in Environmental science from Edinboro University. She later studied at Arizona State University for an MS in Geology and a PhD in science education
Proctor also served as the education outreach officer for the first Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation Mission.
Arceneaux, 29, is a physician assistant at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Arceneaux was treated for bone cancer at the hospital as a 10-year-old.
Sembroski, 42, is a U.S. Air Force veteran and works as an engineer with aerospace company Lockheed Martin. He’d made a donation to St Jude that also entered him into a lottery draw for the fourth position in the crew.
Isaac purchased the flight as part of an effort to raise US$200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.