St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital announced on Monday that former bone and cancer survivor Hailey Arzeno will join billionaire Jared Isaacman on SpaceX’s first all-civilian flight later this year. At the age of 29, Arceneaux will become the youngest American, as well as the first person with a prosthetic body to go into space.
“My battle with cancer has really prepared me for space travel,” Arseno, who now works as a physician̵
Growing up in Louisiana, Arseno first dreamed of becoming an astronaut when her family traveled to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston when she was 9 years old. Shortly after that visit, she received life-changing news when she was diagnosed with bone cancer at 10. As part of her treatment, Arceneaux had to undergo surgery in St. Jude to replace her knee and receive a metal rod in her left femur. .
“I kept saying to myself over and over again as I went through treatment that God had a plan,” she said in a recent interview with St. Judah. Now, nearly 20 years later, Arceneaux’s upcoming space trip looks like a full circle. “I am extremely grateful for His faithfulness and my wild journey.”
The 29-year-old was chosen as one of four people to join Isaacman, a pilot and founder of the payment processing company Shift4 Payments, in his charity mission called Inspiration4. Isaacman announced the mission earlier this year, promising to raise $ 200 million for St. Jude to help fight childhood cancer. The 38-year-old entrepreneur, whose net worth is $ 2.3 billion, according to Forbes, has already set aside $ 100 million of his own money for the cause.
In a tweet on Monday, Isaacman said he was excited about Arseno joining him in space and knew she would be “an inspiration to people around the world.”
In addition to Arceneaux, the rest of Isaacman’s mission will be taken by a winner selected from a lottery competition that raises money for St. Jude and an entrepreneur who wins a competition sponsored by Shift4 Payments. Isaacman is expected to announce the individual winners in March.
The mission is currently scheduled to take off for October at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and the trip will last from two to four days, reports AP. Isaacman, who bought Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket for an undisclosed sum, says he believes the mission “is the first step to a world where anyone can go and dare among the stars.”
“I know that the money raised and the awareness of this mission will change lives …,” said Arseno, who will serve as the crew’s medical officer. “And for me as a former patient and now an employee, it means so much to know that we will be able to help so many more children because of this mission.”
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