Written by Kenneth Chang
Hayley Arceneaux, 29, had hoped this is able to be the yr that she would full her goal of visiting all seven continents earlier than she turned 30.
She won’t have time to do this, although.
She goes to area.
Arceneaux, a doctor assistant at St. Jude Youngsters’s Analysis Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, shall be one among 4 folks on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from Florida. Scheduled to launch late this yr, it’s to be the primary crewed mission to circle Earth wherein nobody on board is knowledgeable astronaut.
“I did ask, ‘Am I going to get a passport stamp for going to area?’” Arceneaux mentioned. “However I don’t suppose I’m going to. So I’m simply going to attract a star and the moon in one among my passports.”
This journey is spearheaded by Jared Isaacman, a 38-year-old billionaire who introduced in January that he had purchased the rocket launch from SpaceX, the area firm began by Elon Musk. Isaacman mentioned on the time that he wished the mission to be greater than a jaunt for the superwealthy, and that he had given two of the 4 obtainable seats to St. Jude.
One in all them will go to a random winner in a sweepstakes contest to lift cash for the hospital, which treats youngsters at no cost and develops cures for childhood cancers and different illnesses.
The opposite seat, Isaacman mentioned, shall be crammed by a front-line well being care employee at St. Jude, somebody who symbolizes hope.
On Monday, St. Jude officers and Isaacman revealed that Arceneaux was the particular person that they had chosen.
Arceneaux may grow to be the youngest American ever to journey to orbit. She will even be the primary particular person with a prosthetic physique half to go to area. She was a affected person at St. Jude practically 20 years in the past, and as a part of her remedy for bone cancer, metallic rods changed elements of the bones in her left leg.
Up to now, that may have stored her firmly on the bottom, unable to fulfill NASA’s stringent medical requirements for astronauts. However the introduction of privately financed area journey has opened the ultimate frontier to some individuals who have been beforehand excluded.
Dr. Michael Neel, the orthopedic surgeon who put in Arceneaux’s prosthesis, mentioned that though having synthetic leg bones implies that she can’t play contact sports activities on Earth, they need to not restrict her on this SpaceX trek.
“It exhibits us that the sky shouldn’t be the restrict,” Neel mentioned. “It’s the sky and past. I believe that’s the true level of all this, that she has little or no limitations so far as what you are able to do. Until you’re going to play soccer up there.”
Arceneaux mentioned she hoped to supply inspiration to sufferers at St. Jude.
“They’ll be capable to see a most cancers survivor in area, particularly one which has gone by means of the identical factor that they’ve,” she mentioned. “It’s going to assist them visualize their future.”
Richard C. Shadyac Jr., president of ALSAC, the fundraising group for St. Jude, mentioned of Arceneaux, “If anyone was emblematic of the notion of hope, it was Hayley.”
Arceneaux herself didn’t discover out she would have a seat on the rocket till early January. Officers on the hospital had vaguely instructed her that there was a chance they wished to speak to her about. She mentioned she had thought that “perhaps it might be a industrial or perhaps giving a speech someplace.”
As a substitute, it was a chance to be an astronaut.
“I even form of laughed,” Arceneaux mentioned. “I used to be like, “What? Sure. Sure, please, that may be wonderful.” She then added, “Let me discuss to my mother.”
Her mother didn’t object.
Arceneaux walked into St. Jude for the primary time in 2002. She was 10. Not lengthy earlier than, she had earned her black belt in taekwondo, however she was complaining of ache in her leg. Her mom noticed a bump protruding over the left knee. The pediatrician within the small city of St. Francisville, Louisiana, the place they lived, not removed from Baton Rouge, instructed them that it appeared like a cancerous tumor.
“All of us fell aside,” Arceneaux mentioned. “I keep in mind simply being so scared as a result of at age 10, everybody I had identified with most cancers had died.”
At St. Jude, medical doctors offered the excellent news that the most cancers had not unfold to different elements of her physique. Arceneaux went by means of chemotherapy, an operation to put in the prosthetic leg bones and lengthy periods of bodily remedy.
Even at that younger age, bald from chemotherapy, Arceneaux was serving to at fundraisers for St. Jude. The following yr, Louisiana Public Broadcasting honored her with one among its Younger Heroes awards.
“After I develop up, I wish to be a nurse at St. Jude,” she mentioned in a video proven on the ceremony in 2003. “I wish to be a mentor to sufferers. Once they are available, I’ll say, ‘I had that once I was little, and I’m doing good.’”
Final yr, Arceneaux was employed by St. Jude. She works with youngsters with leukemia and lymphoma, akin to a teenage boy she talked with not too long ago.
“I shared with him that I additionally misplaced my hair,” Arceneaux mentioned. “I instructed him: ‘You’ll be able to ask me something. I’m a former affected person. I’ll inform you the reality, something you wish to know.’ And he mentioned, ‘Will you actually inform me the reality?’ And I mentioned sure.”
His burning query: “Are you the one going to area?”
Arceneaux needed to dodge. “I mentioned, ‘Nicely, we’ll see who will get introduced,’” she mentioned. “However I believe he knew as a result of then he and his dad have been like “Yeah!” and high-fived.”
Arceneaux and Isaacman have visited SpaceX’s headquarters in California 3 times to fulfill with engineers and to start out planning the journey. In contrast to the missions that SpaceX flies for NASA, this one won’t go to the Worldwide Area Station however will as a substitute orbit Earth for 3 or 4 days earlier than splashing down off the Florida coast.
“She’s acquired an adventurous spirit,” Isaacman mentioned of Arceneaux. “And now she will get to journey to the celebs, which is fairly cool.”
It’s going to nonetheless be a number of extra weeks earlier than they know who their companions shall be.
The St. Jude sweepstakes, publicized in a tv industrial that was broadcast throughout the Tremendous Bowl two weeks in the past, will run by means of the top of the month. It has thus far raised about $9.5 million. That appears to fall far in need of the $100 million Isaacman has himself dedicated to St. Jude, or the general aim of $200 million. However Isaacman and Shadyac mentioned that the fundraising effort would transcend the sweepstakes and that they have been happy with the progress.
“That is going to be a marketing campaign that’s going to increase all the best way till the launch,” Shadyac mentioned.
The sweepstakes is structured in a manner that successfully limits the scale of donations. One entry is free. A minimal donation of $10 buys 100 entries, and every extra greenback donated buys 10 extra entries, as much as $1,000 for 10,000 entries.
There have been some pricier choices obtainable that are actually bought out. For instance, Isaacman will give a donor who contributed $100,000 a trip within the Russian-built MiG-29 jet fighter that he owns. The donor will even get a visit to look at the launch at Kennedy Area Heart in Florida. However that donor nonetheless has simply 10,000 entries within the sweepstakes, the identical as somebody who donated $1,000.
Isaacman mentioned this was a deliberate alternative to stop a rich particular person from attempting to snap up the grand prize of a visit to area by shopping for hundreds of thousands of entries.
“Is it going to symbolize all the folks of Earth and never simply wealthy white guys?” Isaacman mentioned.
The fourth SpaceX seat will go to the winner of a contest sponsored by Isaacman’s firm, Shift4, which sells credit-card-processing terminals and point-of-sale programs to eating places and different companies. The “Shark Tank”-like competitors requires entrepreneurs to design a web based retailer utilizing Shift4’s software program after which publish a video on Twitter describing their enterprise.
As of final week, fewer than 100 folks had submitted full entries. “It means when you had made a Shift4 store and entered it, you’ve acquired fairly wonderful odds,” Isaacman mentioned.