Valley college professor calls trip to space on SpaceX capsule ‘out of this world’
PHOENIX — A capsule parachuting into the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast on Sept. 18 after a trip to space concluded what was a dream come true for a Valley college professor.
Sian Proctor, a professor at South Mountain Community College, was among the four-person crew of the SpaceX Dragon capsule.
“It was an amazing experience,” Proctor told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday. “It was out of this world.
“I’m kind of still in shock that we’ve gone up and come back down.”
“The day of launch, I’m going to be thinking about how my entire life has led up until this moment… I want to encourage the next generation to dream that this is possible.” #Inspiration4 Mission Pilot @DrSianProctor pic.twitter.com/y2JulcHuHY
— Inspiration4 (@inspiration4x) September 15, 2021
The capsule launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sept. 15, with Proctor piloting the fully automated capsule.
“Everything went so smoothly from liftoff to being on orbit to de-orbiting,” Proctor said, adding de-orbiting is a time where things could potentially go wrong.
Proctor, a one-time NASA astronaut finalist, along with trip sponsor Jared Isaacman and two others spent three days in space, being presented with views of a lifetime.
She didn’t realize that because of their altitude and the design of the cupola – a bubble-shaped window at the top of the capsule – that they would be able to see the entire sphere of the Earth.
The moment when me and my amazing crew, @rookisaacman, @ArceneauxHayley, @ChrisSembroski opened up the @SpaceX cupola for the first time, a true highlight of the @inspiration4x mission. Make sure you tune into Countdown on @netflix to see more epic moments from space! @TIME pic.twitter.com/AKmturr9Du
— Dr. Sian “Leo” Proctor (@DrSianProctor) September 21, 2021
“When you get up there and see that, you are just in awe and amazed,” Proctor said, adding going into it as a poet and an artist added another layer to the experience.
“Just absolutely stunningly beautiful.”
The crew wasn’t just up there to sight-see as Proctor said there were many tasks to complete during the three-day trip.
“Went by way too fast and we had too much to do,” Proctor said, adding there was no sense of boredom.
“We had all these medical research experiments we were doing, I wanted to paint so I did one drawing and one full painting.”
I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to paint in space during my @Inspiration4x mission. I’m calling this particular painting Dragon Eye for the @SpaceX cupola looking down upon AfroGaia. I love how the metallic paints shimmer. #Space2inspire #SpaceArtist #Art #BlackArt pic.twitter.com/O8BvubN2PF
— Dr. Sian “Leo” Proctor (@DrSianProctor) September 24, 2021
Proctor isn’t sure what she will do next for the Maricopa County Community College District, serving as the district’s astronaut resident, but is excited to bring the experience to the classroom.
“Geology tends to attract a lot of non-science majors, and I’m always excited to take those students and get them really fired up about science and our planet and the possibilities,” Proctor said.
“Now being able to add this orbital perspective to our planet really adds something.”
After winning her ticket by beating a field of 200 applicants, Proctor said she would be open to going on another trip to space with the company.
“Flying with SpaceX was a fantastic experience, they are the most amazing company,” Proctor said.
“I’m not going to turn them down if they come knocking.”
The capsule reached a high altitude of 363 miles, surpassing the International Space Station by 100 miles.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.