Episode 11

Solving for space solves for earth

In our first episode, we’ll learn how the Inspiration4 mission came to be and get to know three of the crew members: Dr. Sian Proctor, Chris Sembroski and Jared Isaacman. Proctor is an explorer and a geoscientist who’s participated in experiments that mimic habitats on other planets. Sembroski is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who works in the aerospace industry. Isaacman is the founder of Shift4 Payments and the commander of Inspiration4. He’s committed $100 million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as part of the fundraising effort associated with the mission.

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Solving for Space Solves for Earth

The Inspiration4 mission is really two missions in one: finding cures for pediatric cancer and opening space exploration to all. The goal of both is to advance scientific research while accomplishing what many would consider impossible. The first episode of St. Jude Mission of a Lifetime explains the origins of Inspiration4 and introduces three of the crew members. 

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Dr. Sian Proctor

Sian grew up on the island of Guam. Her father worked for NASA there during the Apollo missions. She’s a geoscience professor and an explorer who’s traveled to almost every corner of the world. She was a finalist for the NASA astronaut program 12 years ago. She also participated in the first Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, in 2013. It was a four-month long experiment, mimicking life in a base on Mars.

On getting to go to space after being turned down by NASA

“You get that phone call, and it's 'No' and you just feel it slip through your fingers. Now that it's 12 years later and I'm that much older and wiser, to get this call and it be a 'Yes,’ it's everything I feel like I've been working towards my entire life, as an explorer, as a geoscientist, as an analog astronaut, it's all coming together."

 On space exploration that is just, equitable, diverse and inclusive (JEDI)

“This is a message about how we are writing the narrative of human spaceflight right now, as we go to the moon, and we go on to Mars. And what do we want that to look like? How do we make space really for everyone? Bring all of humanity along? And Inspiration4 is the perfect example of this."

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Chris Sembroski

Chris has had a lifelong fascination with rockets. As a child, he built model rockets with his dad. In college he worked on high-powered model rocketry. He was also a counselor at Space Camp. He then served in the U.S. Air Force, maintaining Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles in Montana. He now works in the private sector aerospace industry. He recognizes the importance of reusable rockets in reducing the costs of space exploration. 

On witnessing his first rocket launch

“Once you see your very first, live, real-sized rocket launch to space – there really are very few other experiences like that for me that give you goosebumps, that really change who you are as a person.”

 On the message of unity behind Inspiration4

"When you look at (the planet) from above, you really get a good sense of what it's like to be a part of this precious thing we call Earth. And I know that experience is going to be incredible for me, and I hope to bring that message back, understanding that there are no lines on the Earth. There are no walls. We are all here together. We can all do amazing things if we show a little generosity and kindness towards one another." 

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Jared Isaacman

Jared is the founder of Shift4 payments, a payment processing company. He started that company at age 16 from his parents’ basement. He has been drawn to philanthropic causes that benefit children. An accomplished jet pilot, he’s made a record setting flight around the world to raise money for those charitable endeavors. Jared is the commander of the Inspiration4 mission and its benefactor, paying for the SpaceX flight and committing $100 million to St. Jude

On the future of space exploration that Inspiration4 represents

“I think a lot of us, whether you're a Star Trek fan or a Star Wars fan, imagine a world where we all kind of are cruising around amongst the stars, and exploring other planets and answering life's mysteries. And so, the more that every day people can participate in that, I think it's a more interesting world. It will be the first step of hopefully many, many more to come."

On combining a mission to space with the mission of St. Jude

“Benefiting an organization like St. Jude that gives others the opportunity to grow up and enjoy some of the great challenges in life is paramount. I think it all kind of gets woven together. Like, yes, you should take advantage of every minute of this, and while you're doing it – especially if it's something that's out of the ordinary or exceptionally challenging – then make sure that the cause you're serving is greater than yourself." 

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