Hayley Arceneaux to become the youngest American to go to space | Sunday Observer

Hayley Arceneaux to become the youngest American to go to space

25 April, 2021

Hayley Arceneaux will be one of four crew members on the world’s first commercial space flight

The idiom “shoot for the stars” has just taken on a literal meaning for cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux. The Memphis, Tennessee, native was selected to be one of four crew members of the SpaceX “Inspiration4”, the world’s first civilian astronaut mission. The 29-year-old will make further history as the youngest American and the first with a prosthetic limb, to travel to space.

“Until this mission, I could have never been an astronaut,” Hayley said. “This mission is opening space travel to people who are not physically perfect.”

Hayley’s space aspirations began two decades ago, following a visit to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, during a family vacation. “I got to see where the astronauts trained and of course wanted to be an astronaut after that, who doesn’t?” she said. However, the young girl’s dreams were derailed a year later when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in her femur.

Fortunately, the often fatal disease had been caught early and the experts at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis were able to curtail its spread through chemotherapy and by replacing the diseased bones with metal rods in her left leg.

Given NASA’s strict medical requirements, Hayley knew that her dream of becoming an astronaut would probably never be realised. However, the young girl had already set her mind on a different, equally challenging, and fulfilling mission, working with young cancer patients at the hospital where she had been cured.

As it turned out, Hayley’s dream of going to space was far from over. On January 5th, 2021, she got a surprise call from Jared Isaacman, CEO and founder of Shift4 Payments, asking her if she would like to go to space. “Immediately I said, ‘Yes, yes, absolutely!’” Arceneaux told AFP.