SpaceX recently ad that it would send four civilians into orbit aboard its Crew Dragon capsule, marking the first time a crew without a single professional astronaut would fly into space. One of those private citizens will be Hayley Arceneaux, who at 29 will be the youngest American to fly in space, the New York Times reported.
The trip was made possible by Jared Isaacman, a billionaire who purchased SpaceX’s first commercial astronaut rocket launch. He’ll get a Crew Dragon seat for Inspiration 4, but he’s also donated three more. We will go to the winner of a contest sponsored by his company Shift4 and another in a Saint-Jude hospital prize draw winner. A fourth seat, however, was for a frontline worker at St. Jude Hospital who symbolizes hope, and that person is Hayley Arceneaux.
Arceneaux is now a medical assistant at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, but nearly 20 years ago she was a patient. She was treated in 2002 for bone cancer and as part of her treatment and now has metal rods in place of some of the bones in her left leg. As such, she will also be the first person with a prosthetic part of the body to go into space.
Normally, such a medical condition would be disqualifying for aspiring astronauts, and Arceneaux still has occasional flabby pain in his leg. However, she was cleared by SpaceX for the flight and will serve as the crew’s chief medical officer. “My battle with cancer really prepared me for space travel,” she said. The Associated Press. “It made me difficult, and I also think it really taught me to expect the unexpected and move on.”
Isaacman, who steals a Mig-29 and other military jets for fun, said Hayley is a great fit for the civilian spaceflight team. “It’s not just about motivating people to someday be astronauts, which is definitely cool,” Isaacman said last week. “It is also meant to be an inspiring message of what we can accomplish here on Earth.”
SpaceX’s latest crewed launch, Crew-1 (above), arrived last November and the next, Crew-2, is scheduled for April 2021. Isaacman will reveal other space tourists on the Inspiration4 mission next month, but they won’t have much time to prepare – take-off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is scheduled for October , with an orbit of two to four days.