“I would have liked to become an astronaut, but I was diagnosed with cancer”: Hayley Arceneaux will become one of the first space tourists
At 29 years old, Hayley Arceneaux will not only become by the end of the year one of the first “space tourists” to fly without the presence of a professional, but will also be at the same time the youngest American astronaut and the first pediatric cancer survivor to be launched into orbit. Due to bone cancer contracted as a child, she wears steel rods in her left leg, which in the still recent past would have been enough to nullify her dreams of space. This was without counting Jared Isaacman, a young American billionaire passionate about space exploration, who chartered a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at his own expense and decided to welcome three other people on board. The first elected to this unprecedented mission, called Inspiration4 and which is due to take off at the end of 2021, is Hayley. The other two candidates will be known later.
The young woman was treated as a child by St Jude’s pediatric hospital in Memphis (Tennessee), which specializes in childhood illnesses and in particular cancers, an institution for which Jared Isaacman hopes to raise some $ 200 million as part of the space mission. “I received a surprise phone call in early January. […] They explained the idea of the mission to me and basically I was asked: do you want to go to space? “, remembers Hayley Arceneaux. “I immediately said: yes, yes, absolutely!”, explains the young woman, who now works for the same hospital, as a medical assistant. As a child, she had visited the NASA center in Houston (Texas). “Of course, I wanted to be an astronaut. But then, a few months later, I was diagnosed with cancer and it really changed my world.”, she confides.
“Until now, astronauts had to be physically perfect. It’s not a category I belong to because of the operations I have had on my leg. And one of the things that excites me so much in this mission is that it opens up space travel to everyone “, Hayley points out. The mission, scheduled for the end of the year, is scheduled to last several days, and space tourists will circle the Earth in low orbit every 90 minutes.