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First people to go to space as tourists detail what it’s like

Going boldy where no tourists have gone before.

  • Virgin Galactic sent their first space tourists into orbit
  • And they’ve revealed all about their experience
  • Despite the $450,000 price tag, it will give you intergalactic wanderlust

 

Published on Feb 15, 2024 at 9:36PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Feb 17, 2024 at 9:57PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Adam Gray

While it’s been talked about for what seems like lightyears, it seems space tourism is finally possible as the first tourists leave orbit to experience space for leisure.

In August last year, Keisha Schahaff, 46, and Anastatia Mayers, 18, made history.

They became the first mother-daughter duo, as well as the first Caribbean women, to visit space.

READ MORE! Inside a luxury space balloon where the mega-rich can stay for $347 a minute

Not only that, Mayers became the youngest person ever to leave the planet.

The pair also became the sixth and seventh Black women to do the same.

“Looking back on our planet, I felt this deeper connection to love,” Schahaff said.

“I did not feel myself as an individual. I could actually see and feel everything that we are.”

Guests of Richard Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, they exited Earth’s atmosphere and cruised in space.

It was the first launch with commercial travelers for Branson’s futuristic brand.

Going boldy where none have gone before, there were three tourists in total aboard spaceflight Galactic 02.

80-year-old British daredevil Jon Goodwin, who purchased his ticket almost two decades ago, was also there to keep them company.

He became the first Olympian, and second person with Parkinson’s, to visit space.

The out-of-this-world and once-in-a-lifetime trip departed from Spaceport America, situated in the middle of New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto desert basin.

The space tourists boarded the reusable space plane, VSS Unity, and were launched on a 90-minute mission.

VMS Eve, Galactic’s carrier plane, lifted Unity to an altitude of 50,000 feet.

There the ship was dropped, igniting the craft’s rocket motor and launching it to space.

The Galactic 02 crew included the space plane’s commander, C.J. Sturckow, and pilot, Kelly Latimer.

Both staff have served NASA and Virgin Galactic flight experience – safe to say this wasn’t their first rodeo.

The six onboard free floated at 280,000 feet for nearly four minutes.

At peak altitude and zero gravity, they experienced what few on Earth ever have: complete and utter weightlessness.

“It almost feels like gravity is what sets the thoughts in our mind,” Schahaff continued.

“Without that gravity, I felt like I was timeless — all I had was awe.”

It wasn’t a last-minute trip, with Schahaff winning her two Virgin Galactic tickets in a Space for Humanity raffle two years earlier.

She entered while on a plane.

To her surprise, months later, there was a knock at her door in Antigua.

It was Branson – there to tell her she’d won the tickets that Virgin Galactic sells for $450,000 each.

Ever the intrepid explorer, the story of how Richard Branson accidentally bought his private island will amaze you.

Schahaff’s daughter, who was away studying in Scotland, was her immediately-obvious companion.

From September of last year, Virgin Galactic began regular spaceflights.

These allowed two to three tourists to leave Earth every four weeks – that’s pretty exclusive.

While affordability is said to be the ultimate goal, it seems the price won’t be coming down to Earth anytime soon.

All space passengers must complete the Preflight Space Readiness Program.

This includes 8-10 months of training at the Spaceport site with accommodation nearby.

Private astronauts are prepared via a series of seminars and flight test simulations for craft familiarity based of their physical and mental baseline.

Because it’s been reported that astronauts come back from space as ‘different people’.

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei returned to earth a changed man after 355 days aboard the ISS.

What’s more, NASA sent one identical twin to space for a year to see how he’d change.

The intensive course covers everything from craft safety measures to manifest and confidence training.

Team bonding, trust, and comfortability are key to the preflight experience.

The mother and daughter said the experience brought them closer and, on the morning of the space flight, everything felt “remarkably clear”.

“I could see the stars, I could see the Moon, and it felt like the Universe was connecting with me again,” Schahaff said.

The entire flight was watched by audiences around the world.

Upon landing, 18-year-old Mayers uttered one single word: “Wow”.

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