SpaceX is pushing the boundaries of space travel. Previously, access to space was mostly available for professional astronauts who spend years training and have a military background to join NASA’s astronaut program. Now, SpaceX is opening space travel access to civilians. SpaceX conducted its first all-civilian mission to space last week. A flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on September 15 carrying Shift4 Payments founder Jared Isaacman, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Physician Assistant Hayley Arceneaux, Geoscience Professor Dr. Sian Proctor, and Air Force veteran/Lockheed Martin engineer Chris Sembroski, aboard the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft. The crew trained for only six months and traveled to an altitude of 585-kilometers, which is higher than the International Space Station.
Isaacman paid for the space tour and made it the crew’s mission to use their historic space voyage to raise awareness and fundraise for St. Jude. The hospital provides free of charge medical treatment to children who are fighting life-threatening illnesses. When the Inspiration4 crew returned from space on September 18, they surpassed their fundraising goal of $200 million for St. Jude.
Inspiration4 Medical Officer Hayley Arceneaux embodies hope, she is a pediatric bone cancer survivor who received life-saving treatment at St. Jude and now works at the hospital as a physician assistant in the oncology department. She made history as the youngest American to ever go to space at just 29 years old and became the first astronaut to go to space with a prosthetic in her left leg's femur, which she lost to cancer at 10 years old. Arceneaux shared that she was filled with joy while orbiting the Earth for three days aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft and shared amazing footage from her time in orbit, shown below. During her time in space, she conducted science research and also answered St. Jude children questions Live from space.
Our crew chatted from space with the patients of @StJude! Watch the event here: https://t.co/LP6ZHOO8cq— Inspiration4 (@inspiration4x) September 17, 2021
Support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: https://t.co/wXT4XvHT2P pic.twitter.com/OyOtGNpEXE
“Even through my battle with cancer, I smiled, persevered, and when I was cured at St. Jude, I felt like I was on top of the world,” Arceneaux said on September 24, “19 years later, still smiling, I became an astronaut with Inspiration4 and quite literally made it to the top of the world,” she captioned a beautiful photograph of her floating in zero gravity while she held a photo of herself from the time she was fighting cancer as a little girl – and planet Earth looks stunning in the background out of Crew Dragon’s cupola.
Even through my battle with cancer, I smiled, persevered, and when I was cured at @StJude, I felt like I was on top of the world. 💛— Hayley Arceneaux (@ArceneauxHayley) September 24, 2021
19 years later, still smiling, I became an astronaut with @inspiration4x and quite literally made it to the top of the world 👩🚀🚀🌎 pic.twitter.com/gVzNIVslu9
“That last view of the Earth from the cupola made me emotional because it was just so awe-inspiring, and I knew I'd be thinking about that for the rest of my life,” Arceneaux told reporters, adding that it was “addicting” to look out the largest window ever flown to space. –“…All you could see was the entire planet…stars and the moon, and that was such a life-changing moment.” She looks forward to sharing her experience with all of the children at St. Jude to show them that everything is possible and empower them – “If I can do this, you can do this,” she said. “I've had some difficulties in life, but I think everyone has in some way,” she said. “I think everyone has had to overcome something and I just hope that people can look at my story and know that holding on to hope, that there will be better days, is so important.”
The 360 degree view of our beautiful planet from the cupola was absolutely life changing pic.twitter.com/c9xiDGJwg1— Hayley Arceneaux (@ArceneauxHayley) September 23, 2021
Featured Image Source: Inspiration4 Hayley Arceneaux via Twitter