Hayley Arceneaux, a medical assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, will join the first civilian trip to space, SpaceX announced today. She will orbit Earth for up to five days in the Crew Dragon capsule as part of the Inspiration4 mission. The crew members are being selected based on the “mission pillars of leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity,” according to the mission’s press release. Arceneaux, SpaceX said, will represent hope.
Diagnosed with bone cancer at age 10, she had some of the bones in her left leg replaced with titanium as part of her treatment. She received treatment at St. Jude, where she now works with children being treated for lymphoma and leukemia. With the next mission, Arceneaux will become the first person with a prosthetic body part to go into space.
The mission is scheduled for late 2021, and if all goes according to schedule, the 29-year-old Arceneaux could also be the youngest American to go into space. The title of youngest person in space would still go to Gherman Titov, a cosmonaut who was 25 years old when he orbited Earth.
The team member selection process also involves a fundraising effort for St. Jude, with a drawing where individuals can donate to St. Jude for a chance to be the third member. The fourth member of the crew will be the winner of a contest sponsored by billionaire Jared Isaacman, who is funding and commanding the mission.