Cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux will join the first all-civilian space mission, becoming the first person with a prosthetic body part to travel to space and the youngest American to orbit the Earth.
Arceneaux, who will serve as the crew’s medical officer, was a bone cancer patient at the age of 10 at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she currently works as a physician assistant. She underwent surgery to replace some of her leg bones with artificial ones.
“Until this mission, you really had to be physically perfect. This mission is changing things. Getting to be a cancer survivor in space is such an incredible honor,” 29-year-old Arceneaux told NBC Today.
“I think this mission is going to inspire people in so many ways. It shows them that anything is possible,” Arceneaux told BBC News.
Billionaire Jared Isaacman, who will command the space flight, said, “From the start, we wanted a crew member that represented the mission’s spirit of hope. I can’t think of a better person than Hayley to fulfill that responsibility.
When Isaacman announced that he bought the rocket for the historic space flight on Feb. 1, he also said that he aims to use the Inspiration4 mission to raise $200 million for the hospital, half of which he will donate himself.
Isaacman plans to reveal the remaining two crew members by March, who will be winners from two different competitions.
Using a Falcon 9 vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, which were both made by SpaceX, the mission is expected to launch later this year from the Kennedy Space Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Florida.
Before the launch, the crew will undergo training for months, including zero gravity simulations.