Hayley Arceneaux is ready for takeoff.
The 29-year-old south Louisiana native will become the youngest American to go to space when SpaceX launches the first-ever all-civilian space mission on Wednesday, Sept. 15.
Arceneaux will be part of “Inspiration4,” named after the four-member space mission that aims to raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where Arceneaux was cured of childhood cancer in the early 2000s.
Arceneaux, a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University and LSU Health in Shreveport, currently works at St. Jude as a physician assistant, working with leukemia and lymphoma patients.
In addition to being the youngest American to go to space, Arceneaux will also become the first person with a prosthesis in space as well as the first cancer survivor.
SpaceX’s Inspiration4 Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, with the five-hour takeoff window opening at 7:02 p.m. Wednesday. The latest forecast predicts a 70-percent chance of “favorable” conditions for liftoff at the launch complex, according to an Inspiration4 press release.
A backup launch window is available starting at 7:05 p.m. Thursday.
Others taking part in the flight are billionaire and founder of Shift4 Payments Jared Isaacman, who spearheaded the mission; pilot Sian Proctor, a geoscientist and science communicator; and mission specialist Chris Sembroski, a data engineer.
People can watch the launch online at spacex.com/launches. Netflix, which recently made a multi-part documentary “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space” about the space mission, will also stream a live webcast of the launch countdown on YouTube beginning one hour before liftoff. To watch the Netflix stream, click here.
The Crew Dragon Resilience will not visit the space station, but will instead free-fly around the Earth for approximately three days, according to SpaceX. Its orbit will reach 357 miles above the Earth, which means it will fly higher than the ISS and higher than the current orbit of the Hubble Space Telescope — an altitude that humans haven't reached since the Hubble servicing missions during the space shuttle program.
When announcing his plans earlier this year, Isaacman said he wanted the mission to mark a “historic moment to inspire humanity while helping to tackle childhood cancer.” He pledged to donate $100 million to St. Jude as part of a massive push to raise $200 million more dollars for the hospital’s research.
Arceneaux was chosen as the ambassador for St. Jude, which has cured tens of thousands of children from cancer since it opened in 1962 — herself included.
At 10 years old, Arceneaux was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer that doctors discovered in her left leg. She then endured “a very difficult surgery” in which doctors successfully removed the tumor and installed an artificial femur and knee.
That led to “a year of very intense chemotherapy,” but Arceneaux described it as “an important time” that “made me who I am.” In an interview with The News earlier this year, she said she was proud to represent St. Jude and that she hoped to inspire her patients to believe anything is possible.
“Being the St. Jude ambassador is such an incredible honor,” Arceneaux said. “I’m just so excited about getting to share my love for St. Jude with the world.”
Hayley is the daughter of Colleen Arceneaux, of St. Francisville, and the late Howard Arceneaux.