Jamaican-American astronaut pays tribute to mom after first space mission 

Francis Akhalbey May 29, 2023
Christopher Huie is the 19th Black astronaut to embark on a space mission -- Photo Credit: Virgin Atlantic

On May 25, Christopher Huie, a Jamaican-American, became the 19th Black astronaut to embark on a space mission when he joined three other crew members for a test flight on the Unity 25 spacecraft.

According to The Gleaner, the 35-year-old astronaut paid homage to his Caribbean heritage as his uniform had the Jamaican flag alongside that of America when he and his colleagues conducted a scheduled test run of a mothership and spaceship at Virgin Atlantic’s Spaceport America in New Mexico. The test run was done in preparation for the company’s 90-minute commercial trips that are scheduled to start in June.

“For me, it is part of my personal origin story. My parents came to this country from Jamaica looking for more opportunities and to do more with their lives. Both my parents, especially my mum, sacrificed a lot so I could have opportunities she didn’t have growing up,” Huie told Metro.co.uk prior to the flight.

“I have had a lot more opportunities in my life than she [his mother] has had, and that’s all culminating in the space flight experience. It’s not only for Jamaica, it’s for immigrants anywhere looking for opportunities to see what you can do with the life that you’ve been given. It’s a story of sacrifice and achievement, that’s what it represents for me,” he added.

The Black astronaut, who earned an Aerospace Engineering degree from the University of Maryland, was initially employed in the aerospace industry’s private sector before he assumed the role of a loads and simulation engineer at Virgin Galactic.

Huie has also made it a point to inspire aspiring Black astronauts as he’s one of the brains behind Virgin Galactic’s Black Leaders in Aerospace Scholarship and Training (BLAST) program – an initiative that provides mentorship to students in college

The 35-year-old also said the space mission meant he had fulfilled a childhood dream as he used to make spaceships with LEGO toys. “I would play with LEGO and I would, pretty much, only build spaceships and flying vehicles, so I was obsessed with machines and building things from a young age. I did want to be an astronaut for a little while, then I decided I wanted to be a pilot, then I changed my mind about being a pilot,”  he recalled.

“It seemed like a long road to be a fighter pilot and I just changed careers to become an aerospace engineer. I did not ever think I would ever have an opportunity to go into space,” Huie added. “Growing up, there was only one avenue to get there, and that was essentially going through the military, becoming a test pilot, and having a one in 10 million chance of becoming an astronaut.”

Founded by billionaire business mogul Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic is touted as the world’s first commercial space line.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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