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Virgin Galactic reveals three passengers who will be aboard its first space tourism flight

<i>Virgin Galactic</i><br/>(From left) Anastatia Mayers
Virgin Galactic
(From left) Anastatia Mayers

By Ashley Strickland, CNN

(CNN) — The first Olympian and the first mother-daughter duo to venture to space will be aboard Virgin Galactic’s inaugural private astronaut mission in August.

Entrepreneur and health and wellness coach Keisha Schahaff and her daughter Anastatia Mayers won their seats during a draw that raised $1.7 million in grants for Space for Humanity, a nonprofit focused on expanding access to space. The duo will become the first people from the Caribbean islands to travel 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,” Schahaff said in a news release. “The fact that I am here, the first to travel to space from Antigua, shows that space really is becoming more accessible.”

Mayers, 18, is currently a second-year undergraduate studying philosophy and physics at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. She is aiming to be the second-youngest person to travel to space.

Jon Goodwin, who competed as a canoeist in the 1972 Munich Games, is 80 years old and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2014. Goodwin is aiming to be the second person with the condition to travel to space.

“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,” Goodwin said in the news release. “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.”

Goodwin was one of the early ticket holders for a trip to space with Virgin Galactic.

The company, founded in the early 2000s, has sold about 800 tickets, including 600 at prices up to $250,000 and another couple hundred at $450,000 per ticket.

The trio will be joined by Beth Moses, the company’s chief astronaut instructor. Moses has been to space three times with Virgin Galactic and in 2019 became the first person to fly to space as a passenger on a commercial space vehicle.

Virgin Galactic and commercial spaceflight

The flight window opens for the mission, dubbed Galactic 02, on August 10, and the launch will stream live on Virgin Galactic’s website.

The announcement comes on the heels of the successful launch and landing of Virgin Galactic’s first commercial spaceflight on June 29.

The flight — a research mission that lasted about an hour and a half — carried Italian Air Force-funded passengers more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) above Earth’s surface to conduct a variety of experiments during a few minutes of weightlessness.

The passengers boarded the VSS Unity, attached to a massive aircraft called VMS Eve, at Virgin Galactic’s spaceport in New Mexico. VMS Eve took off like an airplane, delivering VSS Unity to a designated altitude. Then, VSS Unity fired its rocket engine and reached supersonic speeds as it ventured to the edge of space before descending to land on the runway.

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