The world will soon be cheering on Space Station Ambassador Sian Proctor and her crewmates as they embark on Inspiration4’s mission to low Earth orbit. Proctor was one of four civilians selected for the world’s first all-civilian orbital mission, set to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than September 15, 2021. Proctor will serve as mission pilot for the historic three-day mission, in which the crew will travel around the Earth at an orbit much higher than the International Space Station (ISS).
Each crew member chosen for Inspiration4 represents one of four attributes based on their personal stories: leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity. Proctor—a geoscientist, educator, explorer, science communicator, and entrepreneur—was selected through a competition to represent prosperity.
Since 2017, Proctor has been part of the Space Station Ambassador Program, a community of more than 1,500 empowered educators that share the exciting educational opportunities available through the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, which is managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). Many ISS National Lab education partner programs allow students to design real spaceflight experiments, and ISS crew members are currently working on a student-led investigation through the Genes in Space program.
Proctor brings a broad skillset, developed over a long and accomplished career. She has been a professor at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix for more than 20 years, teaching geology, planetary science, and sustainability. She has also served as an analog astronaut, completing four Earth-based missions in simulated space conditions. These missions include the all-female Sensoria Mars 2020 mission at the Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) habitat and a four-month, NASA-funded Mars simulation mission at HI-SEAS to investigate food strategies for long-duration spaceflight.
Proctor aims to inspire individuals, especially women of color, to engage in conversations and pursue careers in the space industry. She reaches many people through her online art shop “Doctor Proctor’s Space2Inspire,” powered by Inspiration4 sponsor Shift4Shop. She is also a motivational speaker, an author, and a food sustainability advocate, encouraging people to “Eat Like a Martian” to minimize food waste on Earth.
Despite her passion for space, Proctor’s dream of spaceflight has long eluded her. She was selected by NASA in 2009 as a finalist in the astronaut candidate program but did not advance past the final stage. However, fate stepped in earlier this year when Proctor, now 51, was chosen as one of the four civilian astronauts to fly on the Inspiration4 mission.
When asked on NBC’s “Today” show if she was nervous or worried about flying to space, Proctor said, “I was more worried that this opportunity had slipped me by and I would never get the chance to go to space. And now here I am, and that just shows you never give up.” She added, “I’m ready. Just strap me in—let’s go!”
We congratulate Proctor on achieving her dream and inspiring so many who will watch as she makes history and realize they too can reach for the stars. To learn more about the Space Station Ambassador Program and the many educational opportunities available through the ISS National Lab, visit the Space Station Explorers webpage at www.issnationallab.org/stem.