Wednesday, January 26

Virgin Galactic reveals winner of two seats for space

The Virgin Galactic ship in New Mexico on July 11, 2021 Patrick T. FALLON

Space company Virgin Galactic on Wednesday announced the winner of two seats for a trip to space: a 44-year-old woman living in Antigua and Barbuda, who won the tickets currently sold at a price of $ 450,000 thanks to a simple drawing of lots.

Keisha Schahaff decided she would go there with her 17-year-old daughter, a science student currently in the UK for her studies, dreaming of working for NASA.

The news was told to her by the founder of Virgin Galactic himself, who visited her home in Antigua and Barbuda in early November.

“I was just thinking of doing an interview on Zoom,” Keisha Schahaff told AFP. “When I saw Richard Branson come in I started screaming! I couldn’t believe it.”

“As a child, I have always been fascinated by space,” she added. “It’s a great opportunity for me to feel alive.”

Keisha Schahaff won this award by participating in a fundraiser organized by Virgin Galactic on the Omaze platform, which raised $ 1.7 million. The money will be donated to the NGO Space for Humanity, which works for wider access to space.

The amount of the donation donated by Keisha Schahaff was not disclosed, but these started as low as $ 10. The drive attracted nearly 165,000 participants in eight weeks, Virgin Galactic said in a statement.

“Being able to give people of all ages and backgrounds equitable access to space, and in turn, the opportunity to inspire and guide others once on Earth, is what Virgin Galactic has been striving for ever since. two decades, “said Briton Richard Branson, quoted in the press release.

Keisha Schahaf will be among Virgin Galactic’s “first astronauts”, but her place in the queue has yet to be determined, according to a spokesperson for the company.

Virgin Galactic has already pre-sold some 700 space tickets: 600 between 2005 and 2014, then 100 new ones since August, when they were relisted for a price of $ 450,000.

The goal is to sell 1,000 in total before the launch of commercial flights, the first of which is to take place in the fourth quarter of 2022, after a period of aircraft improvements currently underway.

On July 11, Richard Branson himself boarded the SpaceShipTwo during a test flight, accompanied by Virgin Galactic employees.

The proposed trip offers only a few minutes in zero gravity: a huge carrier plane takes off from a classic runway, then drops the ship, which looks like a large private jet, at altitude.

This then ignites its engine until it exceeds 80 km in altitude – the limit of space according to the American army -, then descends while hovering.

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