Hayley Arceneaux, 29, had hoped this might be the yr that she would full her purpose of visiting all seven continents earlier than she turned 30.
She won’t have time to do this, although.
She goes to house.
Ms. Arceneaux, a doctor assistant at St. Jude Youngsters’s Analysis Hospital in Memphis, shall be one in all 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 during which nobody on board is knowledgeable astronaut.
“I did ask, ‘Am I going to get a passport stamp for going to house?’” Ms. Arceneaux stated. “However I don’t suppose I’m going to. So I’m simply going to attract a star and the moon in one in all 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 house firm began by Elon Musk. Mr. Isaacman stated on the time that he needed 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 among them will go to a random winner in a sweepstakes contest to lift cash for the hospital, which treats kids at no cost and develops cures for childhood cancers and different illnesses.
The opposite seat, Mr. Isaacman stated, shall be crammed by a frontline well being care employee at St. Jude, somebody who symbolizes hope.
On Monday, St. Jude officers and Mr. Isaacman revealed that Ms. Arceneaux was the particular person that they had chosen.
Ms. Arceneaux may develop into the youngest American ever to journey to orbit. She may even be the primary particular person with a prosthetic physique half to go to house. She was a affected person at St. Jude practically 20 years in the past, and as a part of her therapy for bone most cancers, steel rods changed elements of the bones in her left leg.
Up to now, that will have saved her firmly on the bottom, unable to fulfill NASA’s stringent medical requirements for astronauts. However the creation of privately financed house journey has opened the ultimate frontier to some individuals who had been beforehand excluded.
Dr. Michael D. Neel, the orthopedic surgeon who put in Ms. Arceneaux’s prosthesis, says that though having synthetic leg bones signifies that she will’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,” Dr. Neel stated. “It’s the sky and past. I feel that’s the actual 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.”
Ms. Arceneaux stated she hoped to supply inspiration to sufferers at St. Jude.
“They’ll be capable to see a most cancers survivor in house, particularly one which has gone via the identical factor that they’ve,” she stated. “It’s going to assist them visualize their future.”
Richard C. Shadyac Jr., the president of ALSAC, the fund-raising group for St. Jude, stated of Ms. Arceneaux, “If anyone was emblematic of the notion of hope, it was Hayley.”
Ms. Arceneaux herself didn’t discover out she would have a seat on the rocket till early January. Officers on the hospital had vaguely advised her that there was a chance they needed to speak to her about. She stated she had thought that “perhaps it might be a business or perhaps giving a speech someplace.”
As a substitute, it was a chance to be an astronaut.
“I even form of laughed,” Ms. Arceneaux stated. “I used to be like, “What? Sure. Sure, please, that will be superb.” She then added, “Let me discuss to my mother.”
Her mother didn’t object.
Ms. 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, La., the place they lived, not removed from Baton Rouge, advised them that it appeared like a cancerous tumor.
“All of us fell aside,” Ms. Arceneaux stated. “I bear in mind simply being so scared as a result of at age 10, everybody I had recognized 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. Ms. Arceneaux went via chemotherapy, an operation to put in the prosthetic leg bones and lengthy periods of bodily remedy.
Even at that younger age, bald from chemotherapy, Ms. Arceneaux was serving to at fund-raisers for St. Jude. The subsequent yr, Louisiana Public Broadcasting honored her with one in all its Younger Heroes awards.
“After I develop up, I need to be a nurse at St. Jude,” she stated in a video proven on the ceremony in 2003. “I need to be a mentor to sufferers. After they are available, I’ll say, ‘I had that once I was little, and I’m doing good.’”
Final yr, Ms. Arceneaux was employed by St. Jude. She works with kids with leukemia and lymphoma, resembling a teenage boy she talked with just lately.
“I shared with him that I additionally misplaced my hair,” Ms. Arceneaux stated. “I advised him: ‘You may ask me something. I’m a former affected person. I’ll inform you the reality, something you need to know.’ And he stated, ‘Will you actually inform me the reality?’ And I stated sure.”
His burning query: “Are you the one going to house?”
Ms. Arceneaux needed to dodge. “I stated, ‘Nicely, we’ll see who will get introduced.’” she stated. “However I feel he knew as a result of then he and his dad had been like “Yeah!” and high-fived.”
Ms. Arceneaux and Mr. 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 House Station however will as a substitute orbit Earth for 3 or 4 days earlier than splashing down off the Florida coast.
“She’s obtained an adventurous spirit,” Mr. Isaacman stated of Ms. Arceneaux. “And now she will get to journey to the celebrities, which is fairly cool.”
It’s going to nonetheless be a couple of extra weeks earlier than they know who their companions shall be.
The St. Jude sweepstakes, publicized in a television commercial that was broadcast during the Super Bowl two weeks in the past, will run via the top of the month. It has thus far raised about $9.5 million. That appears to fall far wanting the $100 million Mr. Isaacman has himself dedicated to St. Jude, or the general objective of $200 million. However Mr. Isaacman and Mr. Shadyac stated that the fund-raising effort would transcend the sweepstakes and that they had been happy with the progress.
“That is going to be a marketing campaign that’s going to increase all the way in which till the launch,” Mr. Shadyac stated.
The sweepstakes is structured in a approach that successfully limits the scale of donations. One entry is free. A minimal donation of $10 buys 100 entries, and every further 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 offered out. For instance, Mr. Isaacman will give a donor who contributed $100,000 a journey within the Russian-built MiG-29 jet fighter that he owns. The donor may even get a visit to observe the launch at Kennedy House Heart in Florida. However that donor nonetheless has simply 10,000 entries within the sweepstakes, the identical as somebody who donated $1,000.
Mr. Isaacman stated this was a deliberate selection to forestall a rich particular person from attempting to snap up the grand prize of a visit to house by shopping for thousands and thousands of entries.
“Is it going to signify the entire folks of Earth and never simply wealthy white guys?” Mr. Isaacman stated.
The fourth SpaceX seat will go to the winner of a contest sponsored by Mr. 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 an internet 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 should you had made a Shift4 store and entered it, you’ve obtained fairly superb odds,” Mr. Isaacman stated.