Everett engineer prepares for SpaceX voyage

A data engineer from Everett is one of four civilians headed into space on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

“Not only do I feel very lucky to be here, but I have a huge responsibility to pay that forward and show that generosity to others,” said Chris Sembroski.

In early 2021, both Sembroski and his friend entered the contest to participate in the SpaceX Inspiration4 program.

Sembroski’s friend won the sweepstakes, but ultimately couldn’t go on the space trip, so he handed the prize to Sembroski.

As a result, Sembroski will “boldly go” where only a handful of other civilians have been before.

“It’s just been an incredible journey, and I can’t believe I’m still sitting here,” he said during a SpaceX Q&A session.

Sembroski will be in orbit for the next three days — all in a fully automated dragon capsule.

As part of the Inspiration4 mission, Sembroski and others will raise money and awareness for St. Jude’s hospital.

“I hope people take the opportunity to look ahead and look at each other and feel inspired to pursue whatever you’re passionate about,” he said.

Sembroski will be joined by three other civilians.

He said they each had an immediate, unshakable bond — much like a bunch of buddies on a camping trip.

“We roll out the sleeping bags like any other camping trip and strap yourself in so you don’t float into each other at night,” Sembroski joked.

Ahead of liftoff, Sembroski’s journey was the talk at Paine Field.

“It’s just amazing of that engineering talent we have in this area,” said Brainard Lee, a local space enthusiast.

For what it’s worth, Sembroski has had a lifelong interest in space.

And starting tonight, the impassioned explorer will have the chance to change history.

“We’re writing the rules. We’re breaking a couple of them that NASA used to demand, and we get to do things our own way,” Sembroski said.

What Everett’s Chris Sembroski may not know is that he’s now part of a larger space community that’s leading the commercial space race throughout western Washington.

“I do definitely see this becoming a central tech hub for space-related things if it hasn’t already become that,” said Gran Bonin with Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries.

“We are the transportation company for space,” he said.

Space, according to Bonin, is a $400-billion global industry that is expected to top $1 trillion during the next decade. He believes Wednesday’s flight is proof space travel is taking off.

" I came to Seattle for a reason,” said Bonin. “And a lot of other people I know have because this is the place to be.”

“So really, we’ve got kind of soup to nuts here on much of what’s going on in space,” added Kristi Morgansen, chair of the University of Washington’s Aeronautics and Astronautics Department.

From building the space shuttle itself to training astronauts for the journey, Morgansen said with the exception of the launch, every step of the process can be completed in western Washington.

“That’s pretty unique to most other places in the country, so it’s a pretty unique situation,” Morgansen said.