Sian Proctor Becomes First Black Woman to Pilot a Spacecraft

In Summary

Dr. Sian Proctor became the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft into space on September 15, 2021.

Dr. Sian Proctor made history as the first Black woman to be the pilot of a spacecraft.  

According to The New York Times, the 51-year-old community college professor from Arizona holds a doctorate degree in science education. In 2009, she was among a group of finalists to become an astronaut for NASA, but she ultimately wasn’t selected.  

RELATED: Jeff Bezos Had ‘Best Day Ever’ Reaching Space in First All Passenger Flight 

However, she didn’t let that deter her as she applied two more times, but was not successful. Those two failed attempts would not be the end for Proctor. In 2013, she was one of six who lived in a small building on the side of a volcano in Hawaii financed by NASA as part of a study on isolation.  

Now, she’s the pilot on the Inspiration4 mission. The trip is the first all-civilian mission to orbit. According to its website, it is named in recognition of the four-person crew that will raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the milestone “represents a new era for human spaceflight and exploration.”  

The crew features Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, Hayley Arceneaux, a bone cancer survivor who works at St. Jude, Chris Sembroski, a former U.S. airman and Proctor.  

“I am thrilled to be a part of the historic Inspiration4 crew and to represent the Prosperity seat,” Proctor said. “Going to space has always been a dream of mine and being able to inspire the world through art and poetry makes it even more special for me.”  

RELATED: Billionaire Richard Branson Enters Space of Virgin Galactic Spacecraft 

The group flew to space on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 on September 15 and returned to earth on September 18. The spaceflight overall was historic and featured numerous groundbreaking achievements alongside Proctor’s notable one. It also included the youngest American in space, and the first person to fly to space with a prosthetic.  

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