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Hayley Arceneaux in front of a SpaceX rocket. Photo: Inspiration4

St. Jude physician assistant and childhood cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux has been selected as the second crew member for an all-civilian mission to space expected to launch later this year.

Why it matters: The mission is a marker of a new age of commercial spaceflight, one in which private citizens and companies are able to go to space without government backing.

Driving the news: The mission — called Inspiration4 — is the brainchild of businessman Jared Isaacman, who has chartered a SpaceX Crew Dragon for the flight. Isaacman, Arceneaux and two other yet-to-be-chosen crew members will be in orbit for multiple days.

  • Inspiration4 is set up, in part, as a fundraiser for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which treated Arceneaux when she was diagnosed with bone cancer at 10 years old.
  • "I really never thought I'd be going to space," Arceneaux told Axios. "And then after this was presented to me, I said, 'It's like a dream I didn't even know I had.' But like, this dream had come true."
  • The other two crew members for the mission will be selected at the end of February. One will be the winner of a raffle raising money for St. Jude and the other will be an entrepreneur selected by a panel of judges as part of a contest.

The big picture: Arceneaux says she hopes her trip to space will help inspire others, including her patients who she plans to speak to from orbit.

  • "I think it's going to change all of us, and I hope to just be able to share that in any way possible," Arceneaux said.

What's next: Arceneaux and Isaacman will continue to train for and plan their mission with SpaceX as they await the selection of their fellow crew members.

  • So far, the raffle has raised more than $9 million for St. Jude, along with Isaacman's donation of $100 million.

Go deeper

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.

Lawmakers hide behind AG's investigation as Cuomo lingers

A billboard outside Albany, N.Y. Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is politically wounded but not yet dead, several state lawmakers tell Axios.

The state of play: Most are holding their fire and punting to state Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into sexual harassment allegations. They expect the inquiry to be credible and thorough — and buy Cuomo badly needed breathing room.