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Caribbean Mother and Daughter Fly to Space Onboard Virgin Galactic Flight

by Karen Rollins Aug 10, 2023

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Virgin Galactic Crew

Antigua and Barbudan mother and daughter, Keisha Schahaff and Anastatia Mayers, have become the first female Caribbean astronauts to travel to space.

Ms Schahaff and her daughter won a fundraising sweepstake for their seats onboard a Virgin Galactic vessel which took off from New Mexico Spaceport on Thursday 10 August at 10.30am (Eastern Caribbean Time). 

In a tweet, Virgin Galactic’s owner Richard Branson said he was in Antigua with Ms Schahaff’s mother, Florence, to see the spacecraft go into orbit.

Virgin Galactic described the morning take off as “perfect” as the ‘VSS Unity’ rocket plane and its mothership ‘VMS Eve’ headed to the edge of space. 

About 50 minutes after take-off, and following a series of checks, mission control gave VSS Unity the all-clear to detach at an altitude of 44,300ft.

The rocket then travelled towards space at 1,000km per hour (Mach 3). Cameras mounted outside captured the view and showed the curvature of the Earth. Footage from inside showed the passengers out of their seats, floating around weightless, and looking at Earth through the spacecraft’s windows.

Eighty-year-old former British Olympian, Jon Goodwin, who paid $250,000 (US) for his ticket in 2005, was the third passenger on the flight alongside two pilots and the company’s astronaut trainer.

About 10 minutes later the rocket landed successfully.

This is the seventh time since 2018 that Virgin Galactic has flown to space and its first time with a ticketholder. About 800 people are currently on the company’s waiting list to make the trip, according to Virgin Galactic.

Sources: Virgin GalacticBBC News and ITVNews.com