Virgin Galactic: 80-year-old Olympian among first passengers set to be launched into space

A test Virgin Galactic flight in June. Credit: PA

An 80-year-old former Olympian with Parkinson’s disease will be one of the first passengers on board Virgin Galactic’s first space tourism flight when it blasts off on Thursday.

Jon Goodwin, from Newcastle under Lyme, will join Keisha Schahaff, 46, and her daughter Anastatia Mayers, 18, who is studying physics in Aberdeen, on the VSS Unity for the 90-minute trip.

The two women will be the first mother and daughter to make a trip to space after winning a coveted place in a prize draw, while Mr Goodwin secured his seat 18 years ago after buying a 250,000 dollar (£194,500) ticket.

Jon Goodwin has waited 18 years for the flight. Credit: BBC Breakfast

After taking off at 4pm (BST) from New Mexico in the US, in the mothership VMS Eve, VSS Unity will separate and take them into sub-orbital space, where they will briefly experience weightlessness while looking back at Earth.

The trip will raise funds for Space for Humanity, a non-profit group which seeks to send ordinary citizens into space to give them a “grander perspective” on the challenges facing Earth.

The three will be joined by astronaut instructor Beth Moses.

In June, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic successfully completed the company’s first commercial spaceflight, taking Italian astronauts into space to conduct a number of scientific experiments.

The company is calling the first private astronaut mission on Thursday Galactic 02.

Despite the success of Virgin Galactic Sir Branson's other space ventures have not done so well recently.

In April Virgin Orbit filed for bankruptcy after its rocket failed to complete the first satellite launch from UK soil.In the following weeks after the failed launch, it cut 85% of its staff.

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