Inspiration4 | Falcon 9 Block 5

Launch Window
September 16, 2021 00:02:56 UTC
September 15, 2021 20:02:56 EDT
Mission Name
Inspiration4
Launch Provider
(What rocket company launched it?)
SpaceX
Customer
(Who paid for this?)
Jared Isaacman
Rocket
Falcon 9 Block 5 B1062-3; 91 day turnaround time
Launch Location
Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A), Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA
Payload mass
12,519 kg (~27,600 lbs) (~12,000 kg dry mass + cargo)
Where did the spacecraft go?
Crew Dragon C207-2 went into a 575-590 km orbit at 51.6° (136.7 day turnaround time)

The spacecraft successfully splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean, and was recovered by GO Searcher
Did they attempt to recover the first stage?
Yes
Where did the first stage land?
B1062-3 successfully landed 543 km downrange on Just Read the Instructions

Tug: Finn Falgout; Support: GO Quest
Did they attempt to recover the fairings?
There are no fairings on Dragon 2
This was the:
– 1st fully private crewed orbital mission, ever
1st spacecraft not destined to a space station since STS-125 (final Hubble repair mission)
– 1st crewed flight on a -3 booster flight
1st Crew Dragon with a cupola
1st time 3 Dragons will be in orbit
– Highest a human has gone since STS-103 in 1999
Fastest turnaround time of a dragon at 136.7 days (previous record: 227.2)
– 2nd free flight mission of a Dragon ever (first was COTS Demo Flight 1)
4th SpaceX crewed mission
3rd operational Crew Dragon mission

3rd reuse of a Dragon 2
– 12th reuse of a Dragon spacecraft
2nd crewed mission on a flight proven Falcon 9
7th Crew Dragon mission

126th Falcon 9 launch (tied with Soyuz 2 for most launched operational rocket)
67th Falcon 9 flight with a flight proven booster
71st re-flight of a booster
– 22nd re-flight of a booster in 2021
– 92nd booster landing
– 23rd launch for SpaceX in 2021
38th SpaceX launch from LC-39A
– 90th orbital launch attempt of 2021
Where to watch
SpaceX’s official replay

Everyday Astronaut replay

How did it go?

SpaceX successfully launched and recovered the first fully private orbital mission ever: Inspiration4. The four astronauts successfully lifted off from Launch Complex 39A, at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, in Florida, atop B1062-3.

The Crew Dragon C207-2, nick named Resilience, was the astronauts’ home for three days, where the orbited in a roughly 575 km circular orbit. The highest apogee during the mission was 590 km, marking the highest orbit a crewed mission since the STS-103 mission in 1999. During this time, the crew performed a number of scientific experiments, gazed at the Earth through the cupola, and had some personal time which included drawing, playing the Ukulele, and talking to children at St. Jude’s.

C207 successfully splashdown on September 18, 2021 at 23:06 UTC. The Dragon recovery vessel GO Searcher recovered Dragon from the Atlantic ocean. In a SpaceX personal record, the crew egressed the spacecraft roughly 45 minutes after splashdown.

Adding to the success of the mission, the Inspiration4 mission exceeded its goal of raising $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: commander Isaacman personally donated $100 million, Elon Musk personally donated $50 million, and an additional $60 million was raised by the community.

The Inspiration4 flight suits and Dragon
The Inspiration4 crew in their flight suits in front of Crew Dragon C207 (Credit: Inspiration4)

Inspiration4

Inspiration4 marked the first orbital crewed mission where all of the astronauts are private citizens. Paid for by Jared Isaacman, the Inspiration4 mission is a charity fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, with the goal of raising $200 million to help research and fight childhood cancer; to reach this goal, Isaacman personally donated $100 million. The four person crew was comprised of four civilians, who have never been to space before.

Due to Isaacman’s primary objective on the Inspiration4 mission to inspire people, the mission has four mission pillars: Leadership, Prosperity, Hope, and Generosity. Because of this, Isaacman decided to team up with St. Jude’s, allowing them to help find a suitable candidate for the Hope seat. Isaacman stated that the crew members could not just be “fishing buddies,” and each member must represent one of these pillars to inspire future generations.

Meet the Crew

The Inspiration4 crew:

  • Mission Commander, representing Leadership: Jared Isaacman
  • Mission Pilot, representing Prosperity: Dr. Sian Proctor
  • Chief Medical Officer, representing Hope: Hayley Arceneaux
  • Mission Specialist, representing Generosity: Christopher Sembroski
Inspiration4 astronaut Jared Isaacman

Inspiration4 Commander Jared Isaacman

Born on February 11, 1983, Isaacman is the CEO and founder of Shift4 Payments, a payment processor used by roughly 250,000 entities.

In 2004, Isaacman began taking flight lessons. Due to the success of Shift4 Payments, Isaacman had the opportunity to get type rated in a number of military jets. This allowed him to, in 2009, set the record for circumnavigating the globe in just under 62 hours. This world record flight also served as a fundraising event for the Make-A-Wish foundation. Additionally, Isaacman has performed in a large number of airshows as part of the Black Diamond Jet team.

As the Mission Commander and sponsor, Isaacman represented the Leadership on the Inspiration4 mission, which is his first mission to space.

Inspiration4 astronaut Dr. Proctor

Inspiration4 Pilot Dr. Sian Proctor

Dr. Sian Proctor was born on March 28, 1970 in Hagåtña, Guam. Proctor has been in love with space since a young age, as her father worked on the Guam Remote Ground Terminal, during the Apollo era. Her family later moved to the continental US, where she went to high school.

She graduated from Fairport High School before attending Edinboro University. Dr. Proctor graduated with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science in 1992. In 1998, she graduated from Arizona State University with a Master’s in geology. Finally, in 2006 she received her Ph.D in science education.

Dr. Proctor is now a science communicator and a geology professor at South Mountain Community College, in Phoenix, Arizona. She is also the aerospace education officer for the Civil Air Patrol’s Arizona wing.

Dr. Proctor was a final candidate in the 2009 NASA Astronaut group (Group 20). However, Dr. Proctor was not selected, which makes the Inspiration4 mission her first mission to space.

The Prosperity seat was awarded to a contestant who created a successful Shift4Shop, selling whatever they could dream of. Dr. Proctor created a Shift4Shop to sell her art and poetry. Additionally, contestants had to create a video about their shop and how they’ll use this opportunity to inspire people. After the shop took off, she was awarded the Prosperity seat on the Inspiration4 mission.

Inspiration4 Medical Officer Hayley Arceneaux

Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on December 4, 1991, at the age of 29 Arceneaux will be the youngest American to orbit the Earth, ever.

At 10 years old, Arceneaux was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, which is a type of bone cancer. Her parents turned to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for her treatment. After a number of surgeries, including a knee replacement, and chemotherapy, Arceneaux won her battle with cancer. Her experience at St. Jude’s inspired her get her Physician Assistant degree, allowing her to help other cancer patients at St. Jude’s.

In 2014, Arceneaux received an undergraduate degree in Spanish. In 2016, she obtained her Physician Assistant degree, allowing her to receive her current job at St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Due to Arceneaux’s story, she represented Hope on the Inspiration4 mission. Isaacman’s goal is that showing a childhood cancer survivor going to space will inspire children suffering from childhood cancer, and give them hope. Arceneaux stated “I’m going to space not physically perfect; with this rod in my leg, I would have immediately been disqualified [from NASA’s astronaut program].”

Inspiration4 Mission Specialist Christopher Sembroski

Christopher Sembroski was born on August 28, 1979 and grew up in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Sembroski graduated with a Bachelor’s in science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautic University, then joined the US Air Force as an electro-mechanical technician.

During his years in college, Sembroski served as a counselor at Space Camp, an educational camp in Huntsville. He also volunteered for ProSpace, a non-profit organization that advocates for private spaceflight.

Sembroski was selected for the Inspisration4 mission after his friend was chosen for the Generosity seat, but was unable to make the flight. However, as Sembroski had also donated to St. Jude’s for a chance to win the Generosity seat, Sembroski’s friend transferred the win to Sembroski, as he has been a lifelong space fan.

Inspiration4 Science

The Inspiration4 astronauts were tasked with conducting research during their three day mission. As the four astronauts will be the highest a human has been since 1999, they will be exposed to more radiation than astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS). The astronauts collected research-grade ECG activity, movement, sleep, heart rate and rhythm, blood oxygen saturation, cabin noise, and light intensity data. Teams also gathered data on the molecular processes in the body, and how they change throughout the spaceflight.

Additionally, the four astronauts will be monitored for changes in behavioral and cognitive performance throughout and after the mission. Researchers used the public Cognition app to track any changes.

The crew members also used the Butterfly IQ+ Ultrasound device to attempt to acquire clinical grade images without the guidance of professionally trained ground support members. Teams hoped to be able to monitor biological changes during and after the spaceflight. The Butterfly IQ+ is also being tested aboard the ISS.

Once the astronauts splash down, they immediately conducted a series of balance and perception tests. This will provide researches with valuable data of how the human body’s ability to balance degrades over time.

Finally, as Hayley Arceneaux will be the first person in space with a prosthetic, she will be testing out a test bed. Based on the results, this could lead to NASA astronauts being allowed to have prosthetics.

Crew Dragon C207 Resilience

The Crew Dragon that supported the Inspiration4 mission was Crew Dragon C207-2. C207 previously supported the NASA Crew-1 (USCV-1) mission, where it launched NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi to the International Space Station (ISS). Ahead of the Crew-1 launch, the astronauts announced that they had named the spacecraft Resilience.

Resilience splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on May 2, 2021, and was later recovered by SpaceX’s recovery ship GO Navigator. The Crew Dragon was then taken to SpaceX’s Dragon refurbishment center (nicknamed “Dragonland”), at the Cape, where it spent the following months undergoing a series of inspections, refurbishments, and upgrades. C207 received a number of upgrades since its previous flight: most notably the replacement of the docking port with a glass cupola.

The cupola flying on the Inspiration4 mission
Jared Isaacman looking out the cupola after installation on C207 (Credit: Inspiration4)

Changes to C207

The most notable upgrade made to Resilience is an upgraded SuperDraco abort system. The amount of propellent stored on the vehicle has increased, which allows for Crew Dragon to launch in stronger offshore winds, while ensuring the crew’s safety. SpaceX also replaced parts of titanium in the SuperDraco with steel, further increasing the safety of the abort system. The same upgrades were made to C206 between SpaceX’s Demonstration Mission 2 and the Crew-2 mission.

SpaceX also strengthened part of Dragon’s structure allowing Dragon to withstand stronger secondary splashes. A secondary splash is the splash after the initial splashdown that could damage the vehicle under certain conditions. To ensure Dragon does not get damaged, NASA and SpaceX have strict splashdown weather criteria, and by strengthening the structure of Dragon these criteria were re-evaluated, increasing the amount of acceptable splashdown conditions.

Most notably, the Inspiration4 mission marked the first Dragon to be equipped with a glass cupola. The cupola is installed in replacement of the docking adapter on the nose of Crew Dragon, under the moving nosecone. Once the nosecone opens, the forward Draco thrusters and cupola will be exposed to space. The astronauts will then have to open an airlock to be able to access the cupola.

Crew Dragon Resilience awaiting mating with the Falcon 9 ahead of the Crew-1 mission (Credit: NASA)

Inspiration4 mission profile

Following separation from the second stage, Crew Dragon will begin opening its nosecone. This exposes the forward Draco thrusters and the cupola. Shortly after the nose cone opened, the Dragon spacecraft performed two phasing burns, which raised its orbit to be in a roughly 575 km circular orbit.

The crew remained in this obit for roughly two days, before conducting another two burns to put the spacecraft into a 365 km low-Earth orbit. Dragon remained in this orbit for just over half a day, before they conducted a 15 minute de-orbit burn.

Before the star of the de-orbit burn, Dragon jettisoned its trunk, leading to the humorous comment by Commander Isaacman that the crew “definitely felt it!” The spacecraft then reentered the atmosphere, nominally deployed two drogue parachutes, followed shortly after by the successful deployment of the four main chutes.

The Dragon then softly splashed down in the Atlantic ocean and was recovered by SpaceX’s recovery vessel GO Searcher.

What is Falcon 9 Block 5?

The Falcon 9 Block 5 is SpaceX’s partially reusable two-stage medium-lift launch vehicle. The vehicle consists of a reusable first stage, an expendable second stage, and, when in payload configuration, a pair of reusable fairing halves.

First Stage

The Falcon 9 first stage contains 9 Merlin 1D+ sea level engines. Each engine uses an open gas generator cycle and runs on RP-1 and liquid oxygen (LOx). Each engine produces 845 kN of thrust at sea level, with a specific impulse (ISP) of 285 seconds, and 934 kN in a vacuum with an ISP of 313 seconds. Due to the powerful nature of the engine, and the large amount of them, the Falcon 9 first stage is able to lose an engine right off the pad, or up to two later in flight, and be able to successfully place the payload into orbit.

The Merlin engines are ignited by TEA-TEB. During static fire and launch the TEA-TEB is provided by the ground service equipment. However, as the Falcon 9 first stage is able to propulsively land, three of the Merlin engines (E1, E5, and E9) contain TEA-TEB canisters to relight for the boost back, reentry, and landing burns.

Second Stage

The Falcon 9 second stage is the only expendable part of the Falcon 9. It contains a singular MVacD engine that produces 981 kN of thrust and an ISP of 348 seconds. The second stage is capable of doing several burns, allowing the Falcon 9 to put payloads in several different orbits.

For missions with many burns and/or long coasts between burns, the second stage is able to be equipped with a mission extension package. When the second stage has this package it may a grey strip (depending on the mission profile), which helps keep the RP-1 warm, an increased number of COPVs for pressurization control, and additional TEA-TEB.

Falcon 9 Block 5 launching on the Starlink V1.0 L27 mission (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 Booster B1062

The booster that supported the Inspiration4 mission was B1062. Inspiration4 was the boosters third flight, changing its designation to B1062-3.

B1060’s missionsLaunch Date (UTC)Turn Around Time (Days)
GPS III SV04November 5, 2020N/A
GPS III SV05June 17, 2021224
Inspiration4September 15, 202190

Following stage separation, the Falcon 9 successfully conducted two burns. These burns softly touched down the booster on SpaceX’s autonomous spaceport drone ship Just Read the Instructions.

Falcon 9 landing on Of Course I Still Love You after launching Bob and Doug (Credit: SpaceX)

Inspiration4 Mission Timeline

COUNTDOWN

All Times Approximate

HR/MIN/SECEVENT
00:45:00SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
00:42:00Crew access arm retracts
00:37:00Dragon’s launch escape system is armed
00:35:00RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins
00:35:001st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins
00:16:002nd stage LOX loading begins
00:07:00Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
00:05:00Dragon transitions to internal power
00:01:00Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
00:01:00Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
00:00:45SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
00:00:03Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
00:00:00Falcon 9 liftoff

LAUNCH, LANDING, AND DEPLOYMENT

All Times Approximate

HR/MIN/SECEVENT
00:01:02Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:371st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:401st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:412nd stage engine starts
00:07:301st stage entry burn
00:08:512nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-1)
00:09:041st stage landing burn
00:09:311st stage landing
00:12:09Dragon separates from 2nd stage
00:13:02Dragon nosecone open sequence begins

In case you want even more information on the timeline of the mission, make sure to check out the Mission Timeline Video.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: