Inspiration4 astronauts talk to St. Jude patients from space

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — SpaceX’s first private flight streaked into orbit Wednesday night. It was the first time a spacecraft circled Earth with an all-amateur crew and no professional astronauts.

The trip is dubbed Inspiration4.

Onboard is 29-year-old Hayley Arceneaux, a childhood bone cancer survivor who works as a physician assistant where she was treated — St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The flight’s billionaire leader, Jared Isaacman, has pledged $100 million of his own money to the hospital and is hoping to raise another $100 million in donations.

Arceneaux became the youngest American in space and the first person in space with a prosthesis, a titanium rod in her left leg.

Thursday, the crew took time out of their busy schedule to inspire St. Jude patients back here on Earth by sharing their experience and taking questions via video call.

Arceneaux answered the kids’ questions while hanging upside down and dodging “Jude,” the golden retriever plush dog that was floating in zero gravity.

She shared an emotional message of why this mission is important.

“We’re doing this for you, and we are thinking about you so much,” she said. “And you know, I wanted to tell you that I was a little girl going through cancer treatment just like a lot of you are, and if I can do this, you can do this, and I’m so proud of each and every one of you and I can’t wait to tell you the stories when I get back to Earth.”

SpaceX said the mission will splash down around 6 p.m. Saturday in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.