Keisha Schahaff, along with her daughter Anastasia Mayers, became the first Caribbean person to go into space, as Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered space plane, VSS Unity, took off from a New Mexico spaceport on Thursday, August 10.
Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, finally launched its first space tourists after decades of promises. The space plane attached to a massive twin-fuselage mothership, carried three customers including Keisha Schahaff and her daughter Anastatia Mayers, who won their seats in a fundraiser drawing.
It also carried as former Olympian Jon Goodwin, who competed as a canoeist in the 1972 Munich Summer Games.
The trip was the company’s seventh spaceflight, second commercial space flight. It was also the first private passenger launch. The expedition is expected to last a minimum of 90 minutes.
Who is Keisha Schahaff, and daughter Anastatia Mayers?
Keisha Schahaff is an entrepreneur and health and wellness coach. She is an Antiguan and Barbudan born in 1976 or 1977, who won tickets for the Galactic 02 launch, typically sold for $450,000, through a drawing held by Virgin Galactic in 2021.
The lottery was held as part of a charity event raising funds for the non-profit organization Space For Humanity. Schahaff received a tropical bouquet and a gift bag from tourism minister Charles Fernandez later that year. She was pledged the entire support of the nation and the Ministry of Tourism and Investment to help her on the “phenomenal” trip.
Prior to the launch, all passengers underwent a “full medical examination by a doctor approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), […] many medical records checks,” and pre-flight training. Schahaff has stated that she does not have any concerns about the expedition.
“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. The fact that I am here, the first to travel to space from Antigua, shows that space really is becoming more accessible. I know I will be changed by my experience, and 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,” Schahaff has been quoted as saying.
Apart from Anastatia, she has another daughter too.