'You can't see wars from above': Virgin Galactic launches Ukrainian woman to space

Lina Borozdina became the first Ukrainian woman to reach the final frontier

Lina Borozdina flew as one of the passengers on board the VSS Unity plane as part of the Galactic 06 flight. Photo: Virgin Galactic / AFP
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Space tourism company Virgin Galactic flew four passengers on Friday, including the first Ukrainian woman, to the edge of space.

It was the sixth passenger flight by the company, owned by Sir Richard Branson.

The spaceplane took off from Spaceport America in New Mexico at 9pm, UAE time.

Lina Borozdina, born and raised in Ukraine but currently living in Nevada, US, flew as one of the passengers on board the VSS Unity plane as part of the Galactic 06 flight.

The scientist, chemist and breast cancer survivor said she always dreamt of going to space.

"Our fragile blue planet in the infinite vacuum of space. You can’t see wars or suffering from above - just the beauty of our planet," Ms Borozdina said.

Her country was invaded by Russia in February 2022, and a war between the two countries is continuing.

Other passengers on the flight included American businessman Robie Vaughn, Austrian entrepreneur Franz Haider and American commercial pilot Neil Kornswiet.

“I have always been fascinated by all that our beautiful planet has to offer, and seeing it from space has been profoundly life-changing," said Mr Haider.

Virgin Galactic offers a horizontal launch, in which a "motherplane" carries a passenger vessel - the VSS Unity - to a high enough altitude where it is released.

It then soars to the edge of space, where passengers experience a few minutes of weightlessness and observe the curvature of the planet.

The plane then descends and lands on a runway in New Mexico, ending the 90-minute experience.

Virgin Galactic flew its first passengers, including Sir Richard, on July 2021, but American authorities grounded the flights after because the plane went off course.

A seat on the flight reportedly costs $450,000.

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Commercial operations started in June 2023, with three Italian Air Force officers who flew on the flight.

Rival company Blue Origin also carries out space flights and has flown 32 people to the edge of space since 2021.

Founder Jeff Bezos flew on the first flight by the company.

Blue Origin has never publicly revealed the ticket cost, but some reports say it can go up to $1.25 million.

The flights were grounded by authorities after a rocket exploded during an uncrewed mission in 2022.

The mission was aborted mid-flight, only one minute into launch.

But the crew capsule escape system worked as it should, bringing the payloads back to ground with a parachute-assisted landing.

It carried out an uncrewed mission in December after authorities ended the investigation.

The late British billionaire Hamish Harding, who lived in Dubai, was the first UAE resident to become a space tourist when he flew on a Blue Origin rocket in 2022.

He was one of the five people who died on the Titan submersible's voyage to the Titanic shipwreck in the Atlantic Ocean last year.

UAE resident Namira Salim flew on the fifth passenger flight by Virgin Galactic in October, helping her become the first Pakistani in space.

Updated: January 27, 2024, 10:21 AM