5/5 © Reuters. Hayley Arceneaux, Physician Assistant, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital 2/5
By Arlene Eiras (Reuters) – Bone cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux is delighted to be going into space. As a member of the crew of SpaceX’s Inspiration4, the world’s first fully commercial astronaut mission to Earth orbit, Arceneaux hopes that, as the first person to go to space with a prosthetic limb, he can inspire others. “This mission is opening up space travel to anyone and I think that in itself will motivate people and give them a lot of hope,” said the vivacious 29-year-old. At age 10, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, and received treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Arceneaux recounts how he spent a difficult but significant year in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy and then surgery that replaced part of his femur with a prosthesis. She credits the hospital with saving her life and now works there as a medical assistant. SpaceX, owned by Tesla (NASDAQ 🙂 founder Elon Musk, is targeting the four-person mission for the fourth quarter of 2021 and is expected to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The flight will be captained by Jared Isaacman, CEO of payment technology firm Shift4Payments, who chose Arceneaux. Unlike NASA and SpaceX flights to the International Space Station, this one will travel around Earth for several days, during which time Arceneaux said he hopes to participate in science experiments. His prosthesis would normally prevent someone from passing the astronaut’s rigorous medical exam, but there is no such requirement for private flight. Arceneaux said she is not afraid and that she was medically cleared for the trip. Encouraging the children at St. Jude Hospital was first on his mind when Arceneaux was asked what he could hope to accomplish in space. “We’re going to try to schedule a video call with the St. Jude kids,” he said. “I hope being able to see me in space really shows you what your future can look like.” I am the first St. Jude patient to go into space, the first pediatric cancer survivor, but I know I will not go to be the last, “she added excitedly.