She will be accompanied by her 17-year-old daughter, who studies science in the UK and dreams of working for NASA.
He was the founder of Virgin Galactic himself, Richard Branson, who announced the news in early November. He did so by going to his home in Antigua and Barbuda to bring him the astronaut suit.
“I was thinking of doing just one interview for Zoom,” the lucky woman told AFP. “When I saw Richard Branson come in, I started screaming! I couldn’t believe it.”
Keisha Schahaff won this award by participating in a fundraiser organized by Virgin Galactic on the Omaze platform, that allowed to raise 1.7 million dollars (1.5 million euros). The money will be donated to the NGO Space for Humanity, which works to facilitate access to space.
The trip offers only a few minutes in zero gravity: a huge plane takes off from a normal runway and launches the craft, which looks like a large private jet.
Then it starts the engine until it exceeds 80 km in altitude (the limit of space according to the US military) and then it glides down.
The Caribbean woman will be one of Virgin Galactic’s “first astronauts,” but her place on the waiting list is unknown, according to a company spokeswoman.
The company pre-sold about 700 seats for the space: 600 between 2005 and 2014, at a price that ranges between 200,000 and 250,000 dollars and another 100 since August, when they were sold again for 450,000 dollars a unit. The idea is to sell 1,000 before the launch of commercial flights, the first of which is scheduled in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Branson’s company rivals that of billionaire Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin, which also offers suborbital flights with a similar experience but aboard a rocket that takes off vertically.