[Update: Succesful launch and Dragon deployment] SpaceX Inspiration4 to become the first all-civilian mission to orbit

The long-awaited Inspiration4 mission will launch this week from the historic LC-39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The flight, paid for by Shift4 founder and CEO Jared Issacman, will carry Issacman along with 3 other civilians.

Over the months we have come to know Issacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Dr. Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski. This week a new era of spaceflight begins as these four take to the sky inside a SpaceX Dragon capsule as the company’s first commercial astronaut mission.

Date: Wednesday, September 15th, 8:02 p.m. EDT

Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9 (B1062-3)

Capsule: Dragon Resilience (C207-2)

Jared IssacmanCommanderCEO of Shift4 Payments
Dr. Sian ProctorPilotProfessor
Hayley ArceneauxMedical OfficerPhysician Assistant
Chris SembrowskiMission SpecialistData Engineer

Launch Pad: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Destination: Low Earth Orbit

Landing Site: Just Read The Instructions, Atlantic Ocean

The Capsule

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule is a crew-rated variant of the Dragon 2 capsule used to shuttle cargo to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply contract. The first Crew Dragon took flight in March of 2019 for a week-long test in space, this was followed by an in-flight abort test and crewed test flight before being certified by NASA.

The Dragon capsule, while originally designed to land propulsively, splashes down in the ocean under the descent of four parachutes and can be reused for future crewed missions.

Dragon Resilience

This will be the second flight for Dragon Resilience. Its first was SpaceX Crew-1 in November of 2020. For Inspiration4’s launch, the Dragon will have some special hardware that is unique to this mission. Instead of being outfitted with a docking adapter for the space station, Resilience will have a large domed window the crew can use to gaze out of. Similar to the International Space Station’s Cupula module, it will allow the crew a great view of Earth below.

Mission Commander Jared Issacman inside the Dragon’s cupola. Credit: SpaceX

Resilience was named by the members of Crew-1 in honor of everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic. After this flight, SpaceX plans to use it for another milestone commercial mission, Axiom-1, the first private mission to the ISS.

The Rocket

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is the workhorse of commercial launches into Earth orbit. The partially reusable rocket is powered by 9 Merlin engines on the first stage and a single vacuum optimized Merlin on the second stage. The Falcon 9 has launched a total of 125 times with a 98% success rate, making it a highly trusted vehicle among the commercial, scientific, and defense sectors.

The Booster

Booster 1062 has launched a total of two times, its first being GPS III SV04 back in November of 2020. B1062’s second mission launched in June of this year and was also a GPS III payload for the US Space Force. This mission will be the first crewed flight on a three-times flown booster.

B1062 on SLC-40 before its first GPS III mission. Credit: Zac Hall for Space Explored

Launch weather

Late Tuesday evening Space Launch Delta 45 updated the L-1 day weather report. The weather for launch day has remained the same with an 80% probability of good conditions. Inspiration4’s launch weather concerns have been updated to be with the anvil cloud rule and flight through precipitation. The 24-hour delay window has also received an update to the probability, which is now at 70% favorable weather. Concerns for the backup day are flight through precipitation and the debris cloud rule.

More concerns to look out for are moderate booster recovery and low-moderate onshore winds, which are not included in SLD 45’s probabilities. The next weather report will come out as required.

Inspiration4 launch updates

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:25 p.m. EDT: That’s all for today’s live blog coverage of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 launch. Stay tuned to SpaceExplored.com for updates over the next few days while the crew is in orbit.

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:19 p.m. EDT: Zero-G indicator confirmed! Looks to be like a Golden Retriever, similar to the service dogs they have at St. Jude.

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:16 p.m. EDT: Dragon Resilience has been deployed from the second stage.

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:13 p.m. EDT: Booster 1062 has successfully landed on Of Course I Still Love You for the third time.

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:12 p.m. EDT: SECO-1: Second engine cut-off 1.

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:11 p.m. EDT: Stage 1 has completed its entry burn.

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:08 p.m. EDT: T+5 minutes, Inspiration4’s trajectory is still nominal.

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:06 p.m. EDT: MECO: Main engine cut-off, this is followed by stage separation and ignitions of the second stage engine.

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:04 p.m. EDT: Falcon 9 has passed through MAX-Q (maximum point of aerodynamic pressure).

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:04 p.m. EDT: Inspiration4 has cleared the tower!

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:03 p.m. EDT: Liftoff!

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:03 p.m. EDT: Falcon 9 is GO for launch!

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:02 p.m. EDT: Falcon 9 is in startup.

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:01 p.m. EDT: Stage 2 liquid oxygen loading complete. Falcon 9 is fully field and ready for launch.

Wednesday, September 15th, 8:01 p.m. EDT: Stage 1 liquid oxygen is complete and configured for terminal count.

Wednesday, September 15th, 7:59 p.m. EDT: The Falcon’s strong back has begun retracting to its launch pre-launch position.

Wednesday, September 15th, 7:57 p.m. EDT: Stage 1 RP-1 load is complete.

Wednesday, September 15th, 7:56 p.m. EDT: Engine Chill: A small amount of liquid oxygen will flow through the 9 Merlin engines to get them ready for ignition.

Wednesday, September 15th, 7:52 p.m. EDT: T-10 minutes, filling of liquid oxygen continues and fueling of RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) has been completed.

Wednesday, September 15th, 7:47 p.m. EDT: Liquid oxygen has begun fueling on the second stage, it has already been fueling the first stage for some time.

Wednesday, September 15th, 7:44 p.m. EDT: T-20 minutes, the second stage fuel tank is full and all items are still GO for launch.

Wednesday, September 15th, 7:39 p.m. EDT: Here is the flight profile for tonights launch.

Credit: SpaceX

Wednesday, September 15th, 7:29 p.m. EDT: Fueling has begun on the Falcon 9 rocket.

Wednesday, September 15th, 7:23 p.m. EDT: Dragon’s abort system is now armed. Fueling of the rocket should begin shortly.

Wednesday, September 15th, 7:22 p.m. EDT: Crew has been given the command to close and lock their suit’s visors and arm the abort system.

Wednesday, September 15th, 7:21 p.m. EDT: Crew access arm has been fully retracted.

Wednesday, September 15th, 7:20 p.m. EDT: Teams have given a GO for retracting of the crew access arm and arming of the Dragon abort system. All systems remain GO for launch.

Wednesday, September 15th, 7:15 p.m. EDT: T-50 minutes from launch, the weather looks to make for a beautiful launch night and launch teams are preparing for a GO/NO-GO poll for fuel loading.

Wednesday, September 15th, 6:22 p.m. EDT: SpaceX close-out crews have closed the hatch to SpaceX’s Dragon Resilience. We are now 2 hours away from launch.

Wednesday, September 15th, 5:25 p.m. EDT: All four crew members are inside the seat and are finishing up being scraped in.

Wednesday, September 15th, 5:20 p.m. EDT: The YouTube fundraiser for St. Jude is now over $100,000 in donations.

Wednesday, September 15th, 5:18 p.m. EDT: Commander Jared Issacman and Mission Specialist Chris Sembroski have joined at the end of the access arm for wall signing and ingress.

Wednesday, September 15th, 5:13 p.m. EDT: Medical Officer Hayley Arceneaux and Pilot Sian Proctor are currently walking down the crew access arm.

Arceneaux and Proctor with the SpaceX “X” logo on the wall with their names written on it.

Wednesday, September 15th, 5:09 p.m. EDT: The crew have now arrived at Level 255 (255 feet above the surface) and have begun making their final phone calls to love ones before launch.

Wednesday, September 15th, 5:04 p.m. EDT: After the short ride the Teslas have arrived at the bottom of LC-39A’s support tower.

Wednesday, September 15th, 5:00 p.m. EDT: The Inspiration4 crew has walked out from the Falcon Support Building for their final Tesla ride to the launch pad. It should be a short drive since the building is right outside the gates.

Wednesday, September 15th, 4:48 p.m. EDT: Videos of the crew now show the crew finishing putting on their suits.

Credit: SpaceX

Wednesday, September 15th, 4:35 p.m. EDT: The YouTube fundraiser for St. Jude has not hit over $50,000.

Wednesday, September 15th, 4:04 p.m. EDT: The crew has arrived at SpaceX’s Falcon Support Building near LC-39A.

Jared Issacman waving to press as they drive pass on their way to LC-39A. Credit: Derek Wise / Space Explored

Wednesday, September 15th, 4:04 p.m. EDT: At just past T-4 hours, SpaceX teams are still working on an 8:02 p.m. EDT lift-off. They are also planning on 2 additional liftoff times within today’s five-hour window.

Wednesday, September 15th, 4:02 p.m. EDT: For those that do now know what Hanger X is, this is the facility SpaceX is now using for refurbishing their Falcon 9 boosters just off of Kennedy Parkway. The land has been owned by SpaceX for some time and originally built parts for early prototypes of SpaceX’s Starship rocket.

Wednesday, September 15th, 3:58 p.m. EDT: The crew in three White Tesla Model Xs have departed from Hanger X.

Wednesday, September 15th, 3:55 p.m. EDT: The Inspirtion4 crew has walked out from SpaceX’s Hanger X at Kennedy Space Center. The crew will now drive to LC-39A for suit-up.

Wednesday, September 15th, 3:42 p.m. EDT: T-4 hours and 20 minutes from launch of Inspiration4 and SpaceX’s live stream is now live.

Featured Image: Inspiration 4 / John Kraus

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