Private business, Virgin Galactic, launched its “Galactic 02” flight to the space on August 10, 2023. Keisha Schahaff and Anastatia Mayers, a Black Carribean Mother-Daughter duo are among the six passengers on the flight. The pair is making history and fulfilling the dream of making space more accessible.
Virgin Galactic launched Galactic 02, its first-ever spaceflight carrying paying space tourists, Thursday morning, August 10th. On board were the first-ever mother-daughter duo to go to space and the first-ever Olympian in space.
Schahaff, 46, got the opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream when she entered the Virgin Galactic and Omaze Sweepstakes in July 2021, and won two tickets worth $450,000 each from a prize draw to raise fund for Space for Humanity, a non-profit group that seeks to send ordinary citizens into space.
“When I was two years old, just looking up tothe skies, I thought, ‘ How can I get there?'” Schahaff recalled in a news release, “The fact that I am here, the first to travel to space from Antigua, shows that space really is becoming more accessible.”
Anastatia Mayers is an 18-year-old philosophy and physics student at Aberdeen University in the United Kingdom. Driven by a passion for the sciences, Mayers becomes the second-youngest astronaunt in history.
The flight took 4 women in a mission, making the record of carrying the most women astronauts. Along with Schahaff and Mayers, there are also the pilot Kelly Latimer and Virgin Galactic’s staff astronaut Beth Moses.
Jon Goodwin, an athlete of the 1972 Summer Olympics in Germany, became the first Olympian to travel to the space. He is also the second person diagnosed with Parkinson’s to go to space.
The voyage took off in New Mexico at 10:30 a.m. on August 10 EDT. The space plane reached a maximum speed of Mach 3 and a peak altitude of 55 miles before heading back down to Earth. It aced a runway touchdown at Spaceport America at 11:30 a.m. EDT.
This is the first space travel for private customers, meaning that Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic can now start offering monthly rides. However, the high price makes it far from accessible to the general public. The cost for one ticket was $200,000 when Goodwin signed up in 2005, now climbed up to $450,000.
Virgin Galactic suffered from its causality of one pilot in a test flight accident in 2014. A rocket crush in fall 2022 paused the business of Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic’s competitor. Yet space tourists are still lining up. According to Virgin Galactic, about 800 people have signed up to come onto their waiting list.