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All Civilian Crew Launches into Space

On Wednesday night, the first four citizens will launch into Space, marking the first time in history that no professional astronauts will be aboard. Look southeast beginning about after 8 p.m., initially low on the horizon. As it climbs the slope toward, the rocket will move from your right to your left. This launch isn’t likely to be as well-publicized as those that occur before sunrise. This is because we’ll be looking at light reflected off the plume from the setting sun rather than light shining through from the rising sun.

Several WRAL viewers sent in photos from their homes of the launch. Allison Newell took the photo below near Jacksonville, North Carolina. The Inspiration4 mission is the latest milestone flight in what has been a busy year for private Space flight businesses, after joyrides into suborbital Space by wealthy entrepreneurs Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos over the summer.

The historic all-civilian mission will be led by billionaire Jared Isaacman. Isaacman, the 38-year-old founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, a payment processing company based in Pennsylvania, paid an undisclosed sum for the three-day trip aboard Space X’s Crew Dragon capsule. Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a bone cancer survivor who now works as a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, will accompany Isaacman on the voyage. Arceneaux, who will serve as the crew’s chief medical officer, will be the nation’s youngest astronaut.

The crew will be completed by Chris Sembroski, a 42-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer, and Sian Proctor, a 51-year-old geoscientist and licensed pilot. Duke University Medical Center doctors assisted the historic crew in preparing for Space emergencies.

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