A new book about SpaceX’s all-civilian Inspiration4 mission recounts the moving journey that brought one of its astronauts into space.
Hayley Arceneaux’s memoir about Inspiration4, called “Wild Ride: A Memoir of I.V. Drips and Rocket Ships (opens in new tab)“, was published by Convergent Books on Tuesday (Sept. 6).
In the book, Arceneaux shares the moment she got the news that’d she be flying with SpaceX. It came via two vice presidents at St. Jude’s Research Hospital in Memphis, where she was treated for cancer as a child and where she works today as a physician assistant.
She recalls the vice president of staff asking to “talk to you about something really big,” then turning to the vice president of fundraising and asking, “Do you want to take this away? Do you want to blast off?”
Arceneaux recalled her reaction: “I mouthed the words to myself: ‘Blast off?'”
Related: Inspiration4: SpaceX’s historic private spaceflight in photos
Inspiration4 was a unique mission to Earth orbit, funded and commanded by billionaire Jared Isaacman. Two of the other three seats aboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule were awarded through contests, and the third was reserved for a person (Arceneaux, it turned out) representing St. Jude’s.
Isaacman’s main goal was to raise money for St. Jude’s, and in six months the mission’s publicity generated $250 million. (Isaacman will return to space through the Polaris Program, starting with Polaris Dawn no earlier than late 2022.)
The three-day Inspiration4 mission lifted off in September 2021. On it, Isaacman, Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski flew higher than the International Space Station to perform science, do work for St. Jude in orbit and take advantage of a new cupola window within the Dragon spacecraft , which provided a 360-degree view of Earth.
ITS HERE! Such an honor to be able to share my wild ride of a journey with you! Thanks for the support along the way 💕 and thanks to my book team for believing in my story & helping me share it with the world. I’m SO EXCITED for y’all to read Wild Ride https://t.co/JJO3zhyuH1 pic.twitter.com/qxl6TXRGtDSeptember 7, 2022
Arceneaux explains in her memoir that, for 20 years, she has been devoted to St. Jude’s mission.
“I’ll do anything I can for this place. When they call on me, I say ‘Yes.’ And they call me often. I’ve been giving speeches for St. Jude since I was 10,” she says.
The seasoned traveler says she felt awe when trying on the SpaceX custom spacesuit for the first time: “I’m no superhero and this isn’t a movie, but I’m going to wear the hell out of that suit,” she writes.
Arceneaux is the youngest person to have orbited the Earth, the first pediatric cancer survivor to reach space, and the first person to fly to space with a prosthetic part, according to Inspiration4 materials.