St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, announced that SpaceX had chosen Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at the hospital, as the second crew member for the world's first all-civilian space mission. She will serve as the crew's medical officer.
As a child, Hayley was diagnosed with bone cancer. The girl was treated at St. Jude Hospital, where she now works with children who have leukemia and lymphoma. During her treatment, she had chemotherapy and surgery to replace some of the leg bones with artificial parts.
With this mission, the 29-year-old woman will become the first person with a prosthetic body part to go to space, the first bone cancer survivor to become an astronaut, and the youngest American ever in space.
The crew members of the mission are being selected based on its pillars of "leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity," according to the press release for the mission. SpaceX says that Arceneaux will represent hope.
"Until this mission, I could have never been an astronaut," Ms. Arceneaux said. "This mission is opening space travel to people who are not physically perfect."
Ms. Arceneaux will also be joined by two contest winners and Jared Isaacman, the billionaire who is funding and commanding the mission. As part of the Inspiration4 first all-civilian space expedition, Isaacman plans to raise awareness and funds of $200 million for St. Jude, half of which he will donate himself.
A space mission with non-professional astronauts is expected to take place at the end of 2021. The mission duration will be 2-4 days.
Arceneaux said that she was invited to join the mission in early January this year. After discussing the proposal with her family, in particular, her brother and sister-in-law, who are aerospace engineers, she agreed to the flight. However, she had to remain silent about her decision for a while.
The Inspiration4 crew will undergo a rigorous training program from SpaceX on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft. They will learn orbital mechanics, how to operate in microgravity, zero gravity, and other forms of stress testing.