March 4, 2021

Louisiana Native and Cancer Survivor to be First American Civilian Woman in Space

Louisiana Native and Cancer Survivor to be First American Civilian Woman in Space

In the not-so-distant future, Baton Rouge native Haley Arceneaux won’t just be a passenger on the first all-civilian space flight, but she will be the first civilian woman in space and the first cancer survivor to enter space, as reported by The Associated Press and The Advocate.

When she takes part in the historic SpaceX flight, the  29 year old Arceneaux will be the first American civilian woman in space, the youngest American, the first person with an artificial joint, first cancer survivor, and the first cajun in space. This laundry list of momentous records soon to be broken by this St. Francisville and Baton Rouge native isn’t at all overlooked by the future space explorer.

Arceneaux is reported as saying, “what an incredible honor this is for me to represent cancer survivors in this way,” Arceneaux said. “Until now, astronauts have been physically perfect. This mission is changing the mindset of what an astronaut has to look like. Not only is it going to mean so much to the kids to know that all of the people that are donating are helping them but also being able to see a survivor in space.”

While the launch date is yet to be finalized, Arceneaux and three other first-time space explorers could be launched on SpaceX’s two stage Falcon 9 rocket possibly as early as October. The crew will launch the Falcon 9 from the Kennedy Space Center and orbit Earth for about three days before concluding the voyage with a water landing off the Florida coast.

Jared Isaacman is the 37-year-old founder and CEO of Shrift Payments, a payment processing company. Isaacman is also an accomplished billionaire and a commercial- and military-rated het pilot. In fact in both 2008 and 2009, he flewSpeed-Around-The-World flights that raised money as well as awareness for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

This upcoming trip is to benefit St. Jude. Isaacman, who arranged and will be commanding the voyage said, “I just can’t think of a better brand ambassador representing St. Jude and representing the spirit of hope on this mission than Hayley.”

Isaacman, who purchased the flight from SpaceX for an undisclosed amount, has already donated half of the $200 million fundraising goal to St. Jude, the organization that performs cancer research and offers medical services to patients at no charge. Isaacman offered two of the three other seats aboard the flight to Arceneaux, a front-line worker and to a St. Jude donor. The Donor will be selected out of a pool of contestants donating to St. Jude during the month of February. The final seat aboard the Falcon 9 rocket will be filled by a yet-to-be determined entrepreneur.

Though, Arceneaux wasn’t only chosen because of her status as a front-line worker, the 29 year old was once a child cured at St. Jude in Memphis, Tennessee, where she now works as a physician assistant helping patients with leukemia and lymphoma.  Arceneaux learned of the expedition from officials within the hospital’s fundraising organization. She recalled, “they asked if I wanted to be on board, and I was shocked but immediately said, ‘Yes, yes, please!”

Arceneaux grew up in St. Francisville and was 10 years old when first diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her left femur in 2002. While at St. Jude, Arceneaux became an ambassador for the organization and later became a summer intern in the Pediatric Oncology Education Program in 2013 before becoming a physician assistant. Arceneaux calls her continued involvement in the service of St. Jude a “dream job,” so it’s only right that she travel to space, setting a record as the first civilian woman in space, as a representative of the marvels conducted by the dream-like medical center.

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