Meet Dr Sian Proctor, The First Black Woman to Pilot a Spacecraft

Sian Proctor is the first black woman to pilot a spacecraft. The SpaceX capsule on Sunday successfully concluded the historic all civilian orbital mission with Proctor as pilot alongside mission commander Jared Isaacman, a billionaire who financed the trip for the crew.

For Proctor, this flight was not just a win for the black community but also a way to raise $200 million for pediatric cancer research on behalf of the St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital.

Meet Dr Sian Proctor, The First Black Woman to Pilot a Spacecraft

What do we know about Sian Proctor?

Sian Hayley Proctor was born on the 28th of March 1970 in Hagåtña, Guam, to  Edward Langley Proctor Jr. and Gloria Deloris Proctor. Her father, Edward, was working with NASA at the Guam Remote Ground terminal during the Apollo. Shortly after the moon landing, her family moved to Minnesota, and a couple of other states as her father worked on various projects.

At 14, Proctor moved to Fairpoint and eventually graduated from Fairpoint high school a few years later. She got her bachelor’s degree in environmental science at Edinboro University and earned a master’s degree in geology from Arizona State University. Sian has also earned a Ph.D. in science education. 

Proctor’s love for science and sustaining the environment is very hard to miss as she has worked on several projects like Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, which aimed at investigating food strategies for long-term space flights, which she undertook in 2013. She also has a passion for education and she has harnessed that skill by becoming one of the teachers at PolarTREC in 2014, helping scientists connect with students who wanted to conduct researches in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. 

In 2016, she was selected as an ACEAP Ambassador. ACEAP is a national science foundation program that helped K-16 formal and informal astronomy educators to facilities in Chile. She, alongside other ambassadors, went on the mission to several observatories and carried out STEM educational outreaches to high schools. 

In 29017, she was selected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to be a teacher at a sea program, where she conducted research on fishy vessels and documented her experience on a blog. 

Proctor currently serves as a major in the Civil Air Patrol as the aerospace education officer for its Arizona Wing. She is also a geology professor at South Mountain Community College in Arizona.

In March, Proctor was announced as an Inspiration4 crew member after being selected from a pool of over 200 entries. She was the pilot for the Inspiration4 private orbital spaceflight, which launched on 15th September 2021, aboard a SpaceX-operated Crew Dragon space capsule.

Meet Dr Sian Proctor, The First Black Woman to Pilot a Spacecraft

Sian Proctor embarked on the journey alongside Christopher Sembroski, Hayley Arceneaux, and Jared Isaacman.

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