Upcoming SpaceX flight a dream come true for Valley college professor
PHOENIX – It’s a dream come true for an aspiring astronaut. That’s how South Mountain Community College geoscience professor Sian Proctor describes the opportunity to take flight in the upcoming first-of-its-kind SpaceX mission.
Proctor in 2009 was a finalist to become a NASA astronaut, but she didn’t make the cut. More than a decade later, Proctor will finally go to space after all as she was selected in March to fill one of the two remaining open seats of the SpaceX Dragon capsule.
The mission will launch no earlier than mid-September for an expected three days and aim for an altitude of 335 miles, 75 miles higher than the International Space Station and on a level with the Hubble Space Telescope.
Following the announcement, Proctor met up with the other three team members who comprise the Inspiration4 mission. The group started their preparation in Pennsylvania with centrifuge training.
“That’s where you get to experience the g-forces [gravitational forces] that you’d be able to experience during the launch and reentry,” Proctor told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Friday. “That was fun because you know, you’re like – what will it feel like?”
Proctor describes the gravitational forces as compression on her chest, but it wasn’t as bad as she expected. Instead, the training got her even more excited.
While she prepares over the next five months for her space flight, Proctor’s family, friends, and peers have offered nothing but support.
“Everybody has been just so happy and enthusiastic for me,” Proctor said. “They know this has been a lifelong dream of mine, and for it to finally come true is just amazing.”
Proctor said she is going to space as an “educator.”
“My goal is to bring kids and students from around the world on this journey,” Proctor said. “The title of our mission is Inspiration4 and I can’t think of anything better as a teacher to inspire the next generation of explorers.”
Proctor recently went to Flagstaff for high altitude training in preparation for her space travel. The Inspiration4’s next training is planned for Mount Rainier National Park about 59 miles southeast of Seattle, which has an elevation of 14,411 feet.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.