Tech and Science

Virgin Galactic names space tourism flight crew – including Olympian and first mother-daughter duo

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A former Olympian has been named among the crew for Virgin Galactic’s first space tourism flight.

Jon Goodwin, who competed in canoeing at the 1972 Games in Munich, will also be only the second person with Parkinson’s disease to reach the edge of space.

The 80-year-old will make the journey on board VSS Unity next month, alongside a mother-daughter duo who will become the first astronauts from the Caribbean.

Keisha Schahaff, 46, and 18-year-old Anastatia Mayers, who is studying physics in Aberdeen, will also be the first mother and daughter to travel on a spaceflight together.

The trio won their seats in a prize draw to raise funds for Space for Humanity, a non-profit group that aims to send ordinary citizens into space to give them a “grander perspective” on the challenges facing Earth.

Unity will reach sub-orbital space, giving passengers a few minutes of weightlessness and spectacular views of our planet before they return to the surface.

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Virgin Galactic’s first commercial space flight

Crew’s excitement for ‘magical’ launch

Mr Goodwin, from Newcastle, described the opportunity as “completely magical”.

He said: “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.”

Ms Schahaff said growing up in the Caribbean, she never thought going into space would be possible.

“I know I will be changed by my experience,” she said.

“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.”

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The mission, which is Virgin Galactic’s second commercial spaceflight and seventh overall, will be led by professional pilots and commanders, with an astronaut instructor also on board to assess the citizen crew.

It will launch from Spaceport America in New Mexico on 10 August.

It follows the launch of Galactic 01 from the same site in June, which saw two Italian air force colonels and an aerospace engineer taken to carry out scientific research experiments.

Virgin Galactic is aiming to carry out monthly private flights, with seats priced between $250,000 (£191,000) and $450,000 (£344,000).

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