British Olympian, 80, and mother and daughter on latest Virgin Galactic flight

Three intrepid travellers are ready to soar to the edge of space on Thursday

From left, Anastatia Mayers, Jon Goodwin, 80, and Keisha Schahaff are taking Virgin Galactic's second space tourism flight. Photo: Virgin Galactic
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Virgin Galactic is planning to launch its second commercial space flight on Thursday, with passengers aged from 18 to 80 going along for the ride.

The flight will offer an estimated 70-minute experience that reportedly cost $450,000 and includes about four minutes of weightlessness.

A mothership will carry the VSS Unity spaceplane, with seven passengers and crew members on board, to high altitude, where it will release and climb to the edge of space, about 89km above the New Mexico desert.

Virgin Galactic, founded by Sir Richard Branson, launched its first commercial flight at the end of June, and is hoping to operate monthly flights, as more than 800 ticket holders around the world await their turn.

"Virgin Galactic’s seventh space flight and second commercial space flight, Galactic 02will fly three private passengers to space," the company said.

Meet the passengers

The British Olympian living life to the full

Jon Goodwin, 80, is a British adventurer and Olympian who competed in the 1972 Munich games in the canoe slalom event.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2014 and is committed to raising awareness of the condition.

Since then, he has climbed and cycled down Mount Kilimanjaro and shows no signs of slowing down.

Virgin Galactic completes first commercial spaceflight

Virgin Galactic completes first commercial spaceflight

"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," Mr Goodwin said.

"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.”

His wife and two sons will be at Spaceport America in New Mexico when Mr Goodwin goes on his space tourism flight.

Mother and daughter make history

Keisha Schahaff, 46, and Anastatia Mayers, 18, a mother and daughter from Antigua and Barbuda, are also passengers on Galactic 02.

They are the first women from the Caribbean to travel to space.

Ms Schahaff is an entrepreneur and health and wellness coach. She was the beneficiary of two spaceflight seats from a draw that raised $1.7 million in grants for Space for Humanity – a non-profit organisation that helps create access to 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," Ms Schahaff said.

"The fact that I am here, the first to travel to space from Antigua, shows that space really is becoming more accessible."

Ms Mayers is studying philosophy and physics at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Meet the crew

Beth Moses, a chief astronaut instructor at Virgin Galactic, will also be in the cabin during the flight.

She will fly to assess the crew's experience. This is her fourth flight with the company.

CJ Sturkcow is the commander on the VSS Unity spaceplane, while Kelly Latimer is the pilot.

Nicola Pecile is the commander on the mothership.

How to watch

Virgin Galactic will live-stream the take-off on its website and social media channels, with a launch window expected to open on Thursday at 7pm, UAE time.

Broadcasts of previous flights have shown live footage from inside the cabin, including the passengers experiencing weightlessness. The landing is also streamed live.

Updated: August 09, 2023, 9:32 AM