The St. Jude’s employee has landed a chair on the very first all-civilian space assignment.
After childhood cancer interrupts her fantasies of being a NASA astronaut, a 29-year-old Tennessee girl is set to become the youngest American to visit space via the planet’s first all-civilian assignment to this cosmos.
Hayley Arceneaux, a doctor assistant in St. Jude’s Children’s Research hospital, was appointed among the team members of the upcoming Inspiration4 mission that will launch via a SpaceX rocket and be commanded by entrepreneur and part-time pilot Jared Isaacman.
One of the aims of the all-civilian assignment is to support St. Jude’s, and Isaacman donated two seats to the hospital: One for Arceneaux and yet another that is being raffled to people as part of a fundraiser for the hospital.
“And that is one thing that’s so amazing about this mission — it is really opening space traveling out to everyone and you no longer have to be physically perfect to visit space.”
Arceneaux seen NASA’s headquarters in Houston when she was 10. She recalled being impressed by the work of the space bureau and visiting in which the astronauts train.
“Obviously I wished to be an astronaut after that, who doesn’t?” She said. “But then my world was really rocked a few months later after I had been diagnosed with cancer.”
Arceneaux ended up going to St. Jude’s — the same hospital where she works now — to receive her life threatening bone cancer therapy.
“Going through cancer therapy, it can be quite tough to look towards the future,” she said. “Because you’re so focused on that day — just like what appointments you’ve got that day, what pills you must take daily, so it actually can be tough to think of what’s next.”
“I think this assignment is actually going to give these children a chance to look forward,” she added. “I hope that it shows them that they can do anything.”
Arceneaux has an internal prosthesis in 1 leg as a result of the bone cancer therapy. She said that over the years, her orthopedic surgeon has always put limitations on what she could do down here on Earth. But in area’s low-gravity environment, all those obstacles are insignificant.
“I can’t go skiing, I can’t go skydiving, I can’t jump on a trampoline,” Arceneaux said. “Moving into space, I am not limited at all. I really believe this zero gravity is going to be freeing.”
Arcenaux recalled when she received the”telephone call that changed my entire life ” She said her initial reaction was laughter and disbelief when she had been asked if she wished to go to space.
She said that her brother and sister-in-law, who are equally aerospace engineers, aided to assure her that distance travel is secure.
Moreover, since beating cancer, Arcenaux stated she has made it her mission to”make the most out of life and try to experience everything I can.”
“After cancer, it actually made every birthday that much sweeter to this day,” she said. “I’m just pleased to be alive.”