It’s safe to say that many residents of St. Francisville were glued to television on Saturday as a girl from her hometown made history.
After three days in space, Hayley Arceneaux and the other members of the all-fan Inspiration4 crew returned to earth on Saturday.
Arceneaux, a Baton Rouge native who grew up in St. Francisville, safely completed the pioneering journey into orbit with a landing in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida.
The SpaceX capsule was parachuted into the ocean just before sunset, not far from where their chartered flight began three days earlier.
A few minutes after the landing, a pair of SpaceX boats stopped alongside the floating capsule. When the hatch was opened on the salvage vessel, Arceneaux was the first to exit, displaying a big smile and a thumbs-up.
The fully amateur crew were the first to tour the world without a professional astronaut.
Arceneaux, 29, a medical assistant from St. Jude who was treated at hospital in Memphis, Tennessee almost two decades ago for bone cancer, has joined businessman-philanthropist Jared Isaacman , who paid an undisclosed sum to book the flight; geoscientist Sian Proctor; and Chris Sembroski, an aerospace industry worker, on the three-day trip to 357 miles above the Earth’s surface.
The crew of the Dragon capsule carried out several experiments, some of which were under the responsibility of Arceneaux as the crew’s military doctor. The mission aimed to shed light on the impact of space flights on the human body.
Environmental and biomedical data and biological samples from the four crew members were collected before, during and after this space flight.
Arceneaux spoke with his patients on the second night of the flight. Arceneaux, the youngest American in space and the first to wear a prosthesis, assured her patients: “I was a little girl undergoing cancer treatment like many of you, and if I can. do, you can do it. “
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft did not allow astronauts to pack their bags for vacations, but they could bring personal items. The one Arceneaux intended to bring was one of his late father’s ties.
Grateful for the medical care that saved Hayley’s life when she was an osteosarcoma patient in 2002 in St. Jude, Howard Arceneaux wore a showy St. Jude tie that, in age-old fatherly tradition, has embarrassed his daughter. Howard Arceneaux died of kidney cancer in 2018.
“I would always say, ‘Don’t wear that. It’s not the most fashionable, “” Hayley told NBC’s “Today” show on Aug. 18. “But he insisted on wearing it because he said people would ask him about and then he could tell them about St. Jude. And so, I bring his tie into space.”
Among the items she brought with her is a commemorative gold coin given to her by the West Feliciana School Board. The corresponding pieces were purchased by the West Feliciana Education Foundation for Arceneaux’s mother, Colleen Arceneaux and Brittney Rosenbach, headmistress of Bains Elementary School.
Hayley also brought the book “Goodnight Moon” that she plans to keep for her future children, and a stuffed dog that served as a weightlessness indicator shortly after takeoff. When the rocket’s second-stage motor shut down, she let go of the toy, which was attached to a tether, and it floated into the cabin, informing the crew that it had reached microgravity of space. .
The toy looked like St. Jude’s golden retriever service dogs, and the hospital is selling replicas of the toy as a fundraiser.
Arceneaux brought a shield logo sticker from St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge, from which she graduated in 2010, and letters from her family to open and read in space.
SpaceX’s fully automated Dragon capsule reached an unusually high altitude of 363 miles after takeoff on Wednesday night. Passing 100 miles past the International Space Station, passengers savored views of Earth through a large bubble-shaped window added to the top of the capsule.
The four men made their way through the atmosphere early Saturday evening, the first space travelers to complete their flight in the Atlantic from Apollo 9 in 1969. The previous two ditching SpaceX crew – carrying astronauts for NASA – were in the Gulf of Mexico.
Editor’s Note: Marcia Dunn, Editor-in-Chief of AP Aerospace, and George Morris, Editor-in-Chief of Advocate, provided reporting for this story.