Cancer Survivor Hayley Arceneaux Hits 8 Gs in Astronaut Training Weeks Before SpaceX Launch

Cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux hits 8 Gs in astronaut training weeks before SpaceX launches

Thanks to John Kraus and Inspiration4 Hayley Arceneaux

Hayley Arceneaux goes into space — and along the way, she takes PEOPLE readers into her otherworldly experience by sharing her personal diary entries. Although the 29-year-old has a career as an assistant physician at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where she beat cancer at age 10, Arceneaux adds an astronaut to her resume by training for the first all-rounder. civilian mission to space along with billionaire Jared Isaacman (the CEO of Shift4 Payments that sponsors the SpaceX flight), Christopher Sembroski and Dr. Sian Proctor. Together they strive for “inspire support for St. Jude’s life-saving work,” the hospital says of its $200 million fundraising goal. Before the Inspiration4 crew will launch into space this fall for a three-day mission, check people.com for more entries from Arceneaux’s diary.

As the numbers on the countdown to blast off get smaller, the workout has increased in pace and intensity. It is both exciting and challenging.

We recently focused on what to expect around Earth’s reentry and landing. A soft water landing is one of two ways the SpaceX Dragon vehicle will land on Earth and how our crew will return. We splash off the coast of Florida, with factors like weather, wave height and wind determining our exact location. Our training included everything from what to expect during atmospheric reentry to when to deploy the parachutes for our soft water landing. And because we land in the water, we went through some water survival training and how to get out of Dragon safely and quickly if needed.

Cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux hits 8 Gs in astronaut training weeks before SpaceX launches

Thanks to John Kraus and Inspiration4 Inspiration4 crew members Dr. Sian Proctor and Hayley Arceneaux

For our ocean exercises, we wore wetsuits and a modified helmet, as we can’t really practice in our spacesuits. We practiced jumping the dragon into the ocean and swimming to a life raft with our life support supplies. I’m a good swimmer, but it helps that you also wear an inflatable device that helps with buoyancy. We simulated the exit in calm and moderate conditions and it was actually a lot of fun, and being in the cool water felt great in the Florida heat. No sharks spotted either.

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In addition, we received fighter jet training in Montana. Our Commander Jared added this to the training schedule to get us into a dynamic, physically stressful environment (and have fun). I was flown by one of our Inspiration4 team members named Kidd, a former Thunderbird pilot. I told him I wanted to hit high G-forces and do some rolling in the jet, and I’m proud to say we hit eight G’s [eight times the force of gravity], even more than I experienced during the spin workout. I texted my orthopedic surgeon afterwards to tell him that my internal prosthesis can officially handle extreme strength. He said he knew long ago to stop limiting me and what my body can do. What I also loved about this experience was sharing the jet flights with my family who joined us. My little brother Hayden said driving the jet fighter was the coolest experience of his life.

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When we come back, I look forward to spending time with my patients in St. Jude and showing them pictures and telling my favorite stories from the workout. When I was sick, I asked my medical team to tell me stories to distract me, especially during uncomfortable procedures or when I was scared. I hope to connect with my patients through my stories and also by listening to their great stories. Most importantly, these experiences let them know that they can realize their wildest dreams.

For more information about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Inspiration4 mission, and ways you can support and participate, visit stjude.org/inspiration4. Fans can also follow Hayley’s personal journey through space on Instagram and Twitter.

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