Inspiration4 Passenger St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Physician Hayley Arceneaux Joins SpaceX Medical Team

Inspiration4 Passenger St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Physician Hayley Arceneaux Joins SpaceX Medical Team

SpaceX opened-up space travel access to civilians. The aerospace company conducted its first all-civilian mission to orbit Earth this year. 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 orbited our planet for three days at a max altitude of 585-kilometers, which is higher than the International Space Station and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Isaacman paid for the space adventure. He made it the crew’s goal to use their historic 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 mission passenger Hayley Arceneaux shared this week that she now works for the aerospace company. “Life update: I’ve joined the SpaceX medical team!!! It is an absolute honor to be working with this incredible company & help medically train & support commercial astronauts,” Arceneaux said, "& of course I’m still working at my dream job at St. Jude, fortunate enough to be able to do both,” she shared in a Twitter post, alongside a photo of her rocking the medical team SpaceX uniform. “It doesn’t get more qualified than Hayley! Congrats - working for two amazing organizations - SpaceX and St. Jude - both with important visions that can change the world,” wrote Isaacman to Arceneaux in a Tweet.

Arceneaux embodied 'Hope' during the all-civilian Inspiration4 spaceflight, she is a pediatric bone cancer survivor who received life-saving treatment at St. Jude and 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.  Previously, access to space was limited for individuals with 'perfect' health; carefully selected professional astronauts who spend years training, and most have a military background to join an astronaut program. 

Thanks to SpaceX opening spaceflight access for private civilians, Arceneaux had the opportunity to fly to outer space. She was filled with joy while orbiting the Earth for three days aboard the Crew Dragon Resilience and shared amazing images from her time in orbit, shown below. During her time in space, she conducted health science research and also answered St. Jude children questions while in microgravity.  “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 after returning from the out-of-this-world trip, “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. 

“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 television reporters in September. She says that it was “addicting” to look out of Dragon’s cupola, 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… 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.” 


Featured Image Source: Inspiration4

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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