Antiguan citizens Keisha Schahaff and her daughter Anastatia Mayers will become the first mother and daughter to travel on a spaceflight together as they have been named among the crew for Virgin Galactic’s first space tourism flight. Dubbed “Galactic 02”, the journey will also be Virgin Galactic’s second commercial spaceflight and seventh overall.
The company said 46-year-old Schahaff and her 18-year-old daughter will be its first Caribbean astronauts in space. “When I was two years old, just looking up to the skies, I thought, ‘How can I get there?’ But, being from the Caribbean, I didn’t see how something like this would be possible,” Schahaff said 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.”
The two won their seats in a prize draw to raise funds for Space for Humanity, a non-profit group that seeks to send ordinary citizens into space. Mayers, who is currently a second-year undergraduate studying philosophy and physics at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, will also make history as the second youngest person to travel to space.
She and her mother will be traveling onboard VSS Unity along with former Olympian Jon Goodwin, who competed in canoeing at the 1972 Games in Munich. The 80-year-old American will also be the second person with Parkinson’s disease to reach the edge of space.
The flight will launch from Spaceport America in New Mexico on August 10 and will be led by professional pilots and commanders. An astronaut instructor will also be on board to assess the citizen crew. The voyage will reach a speed of 2,600 mph and will last for about 90 minutes. Those on board will reach the edge of space where they will get to experience amazing views.
Only around 700 people have traveled to space to date, and there is not much diversity among this number of people. Virgin Galactic seeks to change that, starting with its 800-member Future Astronaut community representing over 60 nations.