Virgin Galactic has revealed the identity of the first three private passengers it plans to take aboard spaceflight ‘Galactic 02’ in early August 2023.
The trio will achieve several historical milestones between them, and as Virgin Galactic puts it, “furthering the Company’s mission of broadening access to space”.
VSS Unity will carry 80-year-old Jon Goodwin, Olympian and early Virgin Galactic ticket holder, as well as Keisha Schahaff and Anastatia Mayers – a Caribbean mother-daughter duo who won their seats in a draw that raised funds for non-profit Space for Humanity.
“The dynamic and multi-national crew highlights the role the commercial space industry can play in removing barriers that once existed to becoming an astronaut,” says Richard Branson’s aerospace company.
“To date, fewer than 700 people have travelled to space, with little diversity among that group. Virgin Galactic’s mission is to change that – beginning with an 800-strong Future Astronaut community that represents more than 60 different nations.”
The ‘Galactic 02’ mission – Virgin Galactic’s seventh spaceflight – will achieve a number of historical milestones, showcasing the power of each Virgin Galactic spaceflight to help redefine who gets to be an astronaut. VSS Unity will fly:
- The first astronauts from the Caribbean
- The first mother-daughter duo to go to space
- The first Olympian to go to space
- The second youngest person to go to space
- The second person with Parkinson’s to go to space
Michael Colglazier, CEO, Virgin Galactic said, “This flight highlights two of Virgin Galactic’s core aspirations – increasing access to space and inspiring people around the world. Each of these astronauts are role models and beacons of inspiration in their communities. Watching Keisha, Ana and Jon embark on this transformative experience helps demonstrate that space is now opening to a broader and more diverse population across the globe.”
Goodwin said: “From becoming an Olympian to canoeing between the peaks of Annapurna, to winning a six day race in the Arctic Circle, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (and cycling back down), I’ve always enjoyed rising to new challenges. When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2014, I was determined not to let it stand in the way of living life to the fullest. And now for me to go to space with Parkinson’s is completely magical. I hope this inspires all others facing adversity and shows them that challenges don’t have to inhibit or stop them from pursuing their dreams.”
Schahaff said, “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. The fact that I am here, the first to travel to space from Antigua, shows that space really is becoming more accessible. I know I will be changed by my experience, and I hope I will be able to share that energy and inspire the people around me – in my role as a life coach, a mother, and as an ambassador for our beautiful planet.”
Virgin Galactic has earmarked a flight window of 10 August 2023 for ‘Galactic 02’ and will live stream the spaceflight on VirginGalactic.com.