Hayley Arceneaux makes history today, alongside four other non-professional astronauts as they journey to the stars on the first all-civilian space mission.
Arceneaux, 29, a cancer survivor working at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will become the youngest American in space when she takes off tonight with entrepreneur and mission commander Jared Isaacman, Dr Sian “Leo” Proctor and Chris Sembroski. Sally Ride, who was the first woman in space, currently holds the record – she was 32 when she participated in the historic launch of Challenger in 1983.
Arceneaux shared her enthusiasm on Twitter, posting a photo of herself in uniform, prepared for today’s mission.
“I plan to eat a glazed donut, my favorite kind, on the morning of the launch; I’ll be wearing my favorite lipstick; and I will launch into orbit with the memories of all my friends who did not survive cancer, all the children who are fighting right now and all the other survivors, ”Arceneaux wrote in People.
The historic mission will launch today at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the Apollo missions and the space shuttle have embarked, with the help of the reusable Falcon 9 rocket. The crew will travel in zero gravity in Earth orbit low at over 17,000 mph for three days.
The Inspiration4 launch window is 8:02 p.m. ET Wednesday to 1:00 a.m. ET Thursday. The spacecraft and crew will reenter the atmosphere within days of launch off the coast of Florida.
A central goal of the mission, named Inspiration4, is to raise funds and raise awareness in St. Jude.
Inspiration4 has a goal of donating $ 100 million to St. Jude, in addition to the $ 100 million donated by Isaacman. The hospital treats children with deadly diseases such as cancer free of charge and searches for cures.
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Arceneaux was treated for bone cancer at the age of 10
Arceneaux, who grew up in St. Francisville, Louisiana, knew St. Jude long before she started working there.
St. Jude treated Arceneaux for bone cancer when she was 10 years old. As a patient, Arceneaux underwent chemotherapy for a year and most of the bone in the femur affected by the cancer was replaced with a prosthesis.
Arceneaux returned to St. Jude as Physician Assistant in April. She often helps new patients and their families deal with difficult news they may have heard hours earlier. His patient experience reassures him even more.
“Working with children means so much because these children are so brave,” she said. “They are going through a great life changing thing. … I share with them that I was a former patient, especially with new children. I love to share this with them.
St. Jude offered him the seat on Inspiration4 in early January. Arceneaux immediately said yes, shortly before calling his mother to discuss the opportunity. Another call with her brother and sister-in-law, both of whom are aerospace engineers, comforted her about the safety of space travel.
“I consider myself to be an adventurer, and so while I never thought I would go to space, it suits me, and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said.
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Rick Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of ALSAC, St. Jude’s fundraising and outreach organization, said he “can’t think of a better crew member” for Inspiration4 than Arceneaux, noting his “incredibly powerful history” and his family’s aerospace background.
SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by CEO Elon Musk, trained the crew for the mission. The training began in March and was essentially identical to a NASA curriculum, ranging from academics in orbital mechanics to emergency procedures, Isaacman said.
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Arceneaux and company will be inside the Dragon spacecraft, which is 26.7 feet high and 13 feet in diameter, as they travel. Small quarters add extra importance for crew members to be comfortable with each other, Isaacman said.
Contribution: Marcia Dunn, Associated Press