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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches people to orbit. Photo: SpaceX

A geoscientist and a former Space Camp counselor will round out the crew of the first all-civilian mission to space launching later this year.

Why it matters: The mission is one of the first true tests of the future space companies like SpaceX hope to build — one in which anyone has the chance to fly to space, even without government backing.

What's happening: Scientist and community college professor Sian Proctor and Air Force veteran Chris Sembroski have both been chosen to fly aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of the Inspiration4 mission.

  • Proctor and Sembroski will join billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman and childhood cancer survivor and physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux on the flight.
  • The full crew is now embarking on months of technical training and crew bonding experiences — like alpine camping on Mount Rainier — ahead of the launch.

Details: Proctor — who was a finalist to become a NASA astronaut in 2009 — won her seat after entering a contest set up by Isaacman and his company Shift4 Payments designed to reward an entrepreneur for their ambition and help support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

  • "I feel so fortunate to have gotten the golden ticket and that I am going to space and representing the fact that it's never too late. Hard work and perseverance has led me to this moment," Proctor told Axios.
  • Sembroski's seat was originally awarded via raffle to someone else who was unable to accept the ticket but recommended Sembroski, who also happened to enter the raffle, instead.
  • "I am still figuring out how in the world to thank him for this generous gift," Sembroski told Axios.

The intrigue: Inspiration4 was initially expected to launch no earlier than Oct. 15, but due to scheduling, the mission has been moved up to no earlier than Sept. 15.

  • The mission itself will be about three days, taking the crew to an orbit higher than the International Space Station, according to Isaacman.
  • "It's likely we'll be above [the] Hubble [Space Telescope] and we think that's symbolic, too," Isaacman told Axios.
  • "Not only have humans not gone that high in more than a decade, but it's like a stepping stone towards the direction that we all know is coming next, which is the return to the Moon and to Mars and beyond going past where we've been comfortable for the last 20 years or so."

Go deeper

What we know about the victims of the Indianapolis mass shooting

Officials load a body into a vehicle at the site of the mass shooting in Indianapolis. Photo:

Eight people who were killed along with several others who were injured in a Thursday evening shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis have been identified by local law enforcement.

The big picture: The Sikh Coalition said at least four of the eight victims were members of the Indianapolis Sikh community.

Pompeo, wife misused State Dept. resources, federal watchdog finds

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The State Department's independent watchdog found that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules when he and his wife asked department employees to perform personal tasks on more than 100 occasions, including picking up their dog and making private dinner reservations.

Why it matters: The report comes as Pompeo pours money into a new political group amid speculation about a possible 2024 presidential run.

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