Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, shed “tears of joy” as his historic space tourism mission completed its first flight with passengers on board.

Writing on the company’s website on Thursday, he said: “There’s nothing quite like a Virgin Galactic spaceflight. Today we flew three incredible private passengers to space: Keisha Schahaff, Anastatia Mayers and Jon Goodwin.

“Congratulations Virgin Galactic commercial astronauts 011, 012 and 013 – welcome to the club!”

‘Tears of joy’

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, he added: “Amazing watching #Galactic02 with Keisha and Anastatia’s family in Antigua and Barbuda. Tears of joy!

The Galactic 02 spaceflight from Spaceport America marked the company’s first private astronaut spaceflight, and second commercial spaceflight.

Milestones on the flight included:

  • First female astronauts from the Caribbean
  • First mother-daughter duo to go to space
  • Youngest person to go to space
  • First Olympian to go to space
  • First majority female spaceflight, and most women flown in a single space mission
  • Second person with Parkinson’s to go to space
  • Third oldest person to go to space
  • Sixth and seventh Black women to go to space
  • Virgin Galactic’s seventh spaceflight, third this year and first with all private astronauts

‘Most exciting day of my life’

The three passengers on board the first space tourism flight operated by Virgin Galactic described the journey as “amazing” and the “most exciting day of my life”.

Jon Goodwin from the United Kingdom, and Keisha Schahaff and Anastatia Mayers from Antigua and Barbuda, were on board.

Keisha Schahaff said: “Looking at Earth was the most amazing…It’s just amazing that you can land so smoothly on a runway coming back from space.”

Goodwin, who has Parkinson’s, said: “I’m hoping that I instil in other people around the world – as well as people with Parkinson’s – that it doesn’t stop you doing things that’s out of the normal if you’ve got some illness.”

Photo credit: Virgin Group
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