Sian Proctor: The teacher whose journey to space began with a poem

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 15 September 2021 10:52
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“Hello everyone, thank you for supporting my space art and poetry journey.”

That’s how Sian Proctor’s journey with Inspiration4 began – long before she even knew she had been selected. And it will end with her being plucked up out of the ocean, after being launched on a rocket for a three-day trip to space.

Dr Proctor is one of four people involved in SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission, a major step towards more widespread space tourism. It is the first exclusively private trip into orbit, and the first of what Elon Musk’s private space company hopes will be a number of privately-commissioned trips to the stars.

Her fellow space travellers got their seats in a variety of ways. Billionaire Jared Isaacman paid for the tickets, using the funds generated through his internet business; cancer survivor and healthcare professional Hayley Arceneaux embodies the charitable work the mission hopes to achieve; Chris Sembroski helped that charitable work by participating in a raffle for a ticket.

Dr Proctor got her seat differently. She was part of a competition launched by Mr Isaacman that would give a seat to a customer of his Shift4 payment processing company; entrants were asked to open up a shop that used its technology, and one of them would be chosen to get a seat.

Her shop, at MySpace2Inspire.com, sold her artwork in the form of clothing, patches and home goods. Launching it, she also wrote a poem, as well as introducing herself and explaining why she hoped to win a ticket.

She then went through a process similar to Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den that saw her pitch in front of a host of other experts. She won that process – and got her seat on board the trip to space.

The Inspiration4 mission is far from her first experience of space, however, even if it is the first time she is going there. Her father worked at a Nasa tracking station in Guam, where she was born; she has completed missions that simulate trips to space, including a four-month stint in simulated Mars conditions to understand how astronauts might eat during long-duration missions.

She even got close to a seat to space in the past. She was a finalist for the 2009 Nasa astronaut programme.

Today, she is a teacher, including working as a geoscience professor for more than 20 years. At the same time, she campaigns for what she calls a “JEDI” space – that is, a just, equitable, diverse and inclusive space.

As with the rest of her crew, she will embody a value – Prosperity, in her case, alongside Hope, Generosity and Leadership.

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