Meet the 1st All-Civilian SpaceX Dragon Crew to Orbit Earth

SpaceX Dragon Launch in November.
SpaceX Dragon launch in November.Getty

The first all-civilian SpaceX Dragon crew includes a billionaire and a cancer survivor.

A SpaceX Dragon capsule splashed down Sunday in the first night-time landing in more than 50 years. That same vessel will make history again when it carries the first all-civilian space crew to orbit Earth later this year.

The team of four Americans includes a billionaire, a childhood cancer survivor, a science teacher and an engineer, and will take flight in November on the Inspiration 4 mission. It will orbit the planet for three days.

Jared Isaacman, a 38-year-old billionaire and high school dropout, paid the private company an undisclosed price for the four seats. Three went to complete strangers. 

"When I found out that Inspiration 4 was gonna be the first all-civilian mission to space, well then, there's no chance that's going to be a bunch of fishing buddies going on a joy ride. That's something of significance, of responsibility. And we were going to make it really special," Isaacman told CBS News.

Each seat will represent a human virtue, with Isaacman embodying "leadership." 

Physician's assistant Hayley Arceneaux, who survived childhood cancer, will also be on board. She was treated at age 10 at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Arceneaux said she represents the virtue of "hope." St. Jude's patients will "see that somebody who was in their shoes, who also fought childhood cancer, can go to space. And I think that's really gonna show them what they're capable of," she said.

The third astronaut is Sian Proctor, a community college science instructor in Phoenix who didn't make the finalist cut in NASA's astronaut program. 

She got her seat by winning a contest for entrepreneurs, and her win represents "prosperity."

"I make the analogy of either Willy Wonka and you open up the chocolate bar and there's the golden ticket, or Harry Potter learning he's a wizard," Proctor said. "I get to ride a Dragon into space."

Rounding out the team is Chris Sembroski, a 41-year-old engineer from Seattle. A generous friend gave him the winning ticket from an online raffle to raise money for St. Jude's. 

His seat represents "generosity."

After receiving a call telling him he would be on board, he ran upstairs to tell his wife, he recalled.

"Honey, I'm going to ride a rocket," he said. "And her response was, 'What?' And my daughter, who was sitting there said, 'That's awesome. That's really cool, dad.'" 

Isaacman said the flight will also serve as a fundraiser for St. Jude's and he hopes to raise $200 million.

"I know how lucky I've been in life. The ball's bounced my way many times. Some of these families have been dealt a terrible hand in life," he said. "So we've got to do something about it. That's why it has to be such a big initiative."

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