Hayley Arceneaux, 29, had hoped this is able to be the 12 months that she would full her intention of visiting all seven continents earlier than she turned 30.
She won’t have time to do this, although.
She goes to area.
Ms. Arceneaux, a doctor assistant at St. Jude Youngsters’s Analysis Hospital in Memphis, will likely be one in all 4 folks on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from Florida. Scheduled to launch late this 12 months, it’s to be the primary crewed mission to circle Earth by which nobody on board is an expert astronaut.
“I did ask, ‘Am I going to get a passport stamp for going to area?’” Ms. 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 in all my passports.”
This journey is spearheaded by Jared Isaacman, a 38-year-old billionaire who announced in January that he had bought the rocket launch from SpaceX, the area firm began by Elon Musk. Mr. 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 accessible seats to St. Jude.
Certainly one of them will go to a random winner in a sweepstakes contest to boost cash for the hospital, which treats kids at no cost and develops cures for childhood cancers and different ailments.
The opposite seat, Mr. Isaacman mentioned, will likely 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 individual that they had chosen.
Ms. Arceneaux may change into the youngest American ever to journey to orbit. She may also be the primary individual 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 most cancers, metallic rods changed components of the bones in her left leg.
Prior to now, that may have stored her firmly on the bottom, unable to fulfill NASA’s stringent medical standards 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 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 reveals us that the sky is just not the restrict,” Dr. Neel mentioned. “It’s the sky and past. I believe 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 mentioned she hoped to supply inspiration to sufferers at St. Jude.
“They’ll be capable of see a most cancers survivor in area, particularly one which has gone by way of the identical factor that they’ve,” she mentioned. “It’s going to assist them visualize their future.”
Richard C. Shadyac Jr., the president of ALSAC, the fund-raising organization for St. Jude, mentioned 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 informed her that there was a possibility they wished to speak to her about. She mentioned she had thought that “possibly it could be a business or possibly giving a speech someplace.”
As a substitute, it was a possibility to be an astronaut.
“I even sort of laughed,” Ms. Arceneaux mentioned. “I used to be like, ‘What? Sure. Sure, please, that may 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, informed them that it appeared like a cancerous tumor.
“All of us fell aside,” Ms. Arceneaux mentioned. “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, docs offered the excellent news that the most cancers had not unfold to different components of her physique. Ms. Arceneaux went by way of chemotherapy, an operation to put in the prosthetic leg bones and lengthy classes of bodily remedy.
Even at that younger age, bald from chemotherapy, Ms. Arceneaux was serving to at fund-raisers for St. Jude. The following 12 months, Louisiana Public Broadcasting honored her with one in all its Younger Heroes awards.
“Once I develop up, I need to be a nurse at St. Jude,” she mentioned in a video shown at the ceremony in 2003. “I need to be a mentor to sufferers. Once they are available in, I’ll say, ‘I had that once I was little, and I’m doing good.’”
Final 12 months, Ms. Arceneaux was employed by St. Jude. She works with kids with leukemia and lymphoma, comparable to a teenage boy she talked with just lately.
“I shared with him that I additionally misplaced my hair,” Ms. Arceneaux mentioned. “I informed him: ‘You possibly can ask me something. I’m a former affected person. I’ll let you know the reality, something you need 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?”
Ms. 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.”
Ms. Arceneaux and Mr. Isaacman have visited SpaceX’s headquarters in California thrice to fulfill with engineers and to start out planning the journey. Not like the missions that SpaceX flies for NASA, this one won’t go to the Worldwide House Station however will as an alternative orbit Earth for 3 or 4 days earlier than splashing down off the Florida coast.
“She’s acquired an adventurous spirit,” Mr. Isaacman mentioned of Ms. Arceneaux. “And now she will get to journey to the celebrities, which is fairly cool.”
It’s going to nonetheless be just a few extra weeks earlier than they know who their companions will likely be.
The St. Jude sweepstakes, publicized in a television commercial that was broadcast during the Super Bowl two weeks in the past, will run by way of the top of the month. It has up to now raised about $9.5 million. That appears to fall far in need of the $100 million Mr. Isaacman has himself dedicated to St. Jude, or the general objective of $200 million. However Mr. Isaacman and Mr. Shadyac mentioned that the fund-raising 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 way in which till the launch,” Mr. Shadyac mentioned.
The sweepstakes is structured in a means that successfully limits the dimensions 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 accessible that at the moment are bought out. For instance, Mr. Isaacman will give a donor who contributed $100,000 a experience within the Russian-built MiG-29 jet fighter that he owns. The donor may also get a visit to look at the launch at Kennedy House Middle in Florida. However that donor nonetheless has simply 10,000 entries within the sweepstakes, the identical as somebody who donated $1,000.
Mr. Isaacman mentioned this was a deliberate selection to stop a rich individual from making an attempt to snap up the grand prize of a visit to area by shopping for hundreds of thousands of entries.
“Is it going to signify the entire folks of Earth and never simply wealthy white guys?” Mr. Isaacman mentioned.
The fourth SpaceX seat will go to the winner of a contest sponsored by Mr. Isaacman’s company, Shift4, which sells credit-card-processing terminals and point-of-sale methods 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 if you happen to had made a Shift4 store and entered it, you’ve acquired fairly superb odds,” Mr. Isaacman mentioned.