After getting the green light to make history, SpaceX successfully launched the first all-civilian crew into orbit last night. Sharing her experiences with SpaceX leading to the launch, one of the crew members details her life’s story, training, and more, by releasing diary entries.
Hayley Arceneaux shared exclusive diary entries to PEOPLE of the months leading up to the historic Inspiration4 launch last night. “Every day of my life, there is some aspect of Inspiration4 preparation — exercise, study, planning, etc. Every few weeks we train either on-site at SpaceX in California or another location for specialized sessions.”
Inspiration4’s launch is especially significant for Arceneaux, as the mission is fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with a $200 million goal. Arceneaux herself beat cancer when she was 10 and works as a physician assistant there. “I was so honored and excited, especially because I work with a lot of these awesome kids every day. Over three different classes, with kids aged 5 to 10, I told them about the mission, but also kept saying, ‘I’m doing this, and you can too.’ “
Crew members on the Crew Dragon capsule were permitted to bring a carry-on with personal mementos. Arceneaux brought a picture of her late father, who died from cancer three years ago. “We were so close, and he was one of my biggest cheerleaders — especially during my cancer diagnosis and treatment at St. Jude,” she wrote.
A month before launch, Hayley Arceneaux thanked her friends for being so encouraging and the “lift-off” party they threw for her. “My friends have been so uplifting and encouraging not just now, but throughout my life. For the people in my krewe [close group] it’s about putting each other before ourselves.”
Preparing for the SpaceX Inspiration4 Launch
Haley Arceneaux’s diaries also detail how she physically and mentally prepared for Inspiration4’s launch.
In an essay published on July 28, Arceneaux detailed her and the crew’s Mt. Rainier hike to train and bond together. Possessing a prosthesis in her leg from her bone cancer in childhood, she powered through for herself and the St. Jude children. “When I was climbing Mt. Rainier, I thought about how I could share the experience with [the kids]. Climbing a mountain is a lot like battling cancer. You have to keep the end goal in mind, but also take one — sometimes hard, painful, difficult — step at a time to reach your destination.”
The crew also went through jet training in Montana. “I was flown by one of our Inspiration4 team members named Kidd who is a former Thunderbird pilot. I told him I wanted to hit high G forces and do some rolls in the jet, and I’m proud to say we hit eight Gs [eight times the force of gravity], even more than I experienced during centrifuge training.”
Being assigned the role of Medical Officer, Arceneaux reported feeling ecstatic about adding “space medicine” to her resume. In her final diary, she said she felt “calm and excited” about the trip. “It’s definitely not lost on me how lucky I am to be where I am,” she concludes.