In the end, the camping trip up the flank of Mt. Rainier that the Inspiration4 crew made back in April may have done more than anything else to prepare them for tonight’s successful launch into Earth orbit, at 8:02 p.m. ET from pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Even the day before the launch, at a T-minus-27-hour press conference, they were still talking about the experience and what it taught them.
Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and who tonight became the first person to fly in space with a prosthetic—a rod in place of her left femur, which she lost to childhood cancer—called the hike the most daunting and transformative part of the training, one that forged powerful bonds among the all-civilian crew members. “It was 10 hours of hiking and three days of camping with four people in small tents,” she said.