Who is on board Virgin Galactic's space tourism flight?

Virgin Galactic's first space tourism flight takes off today - meet the space tourists

Virgin Galactic's first space flight carrying tourists is scheduled to launch today, taking a former Olympian and a mother and daughter (who won their tickets) into space.

The trip is the firm's first tourism flight, but its second commercial trip. Earlier this year three Italian citizens were launched into low orbit.

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

Who is on board?

One of those who will get launched into space is former Olympian Jon Goodwin. The 80-year-old competed in canoeing at the 1972 Games in Munich

Originally from Newcastle-under-Lyme, he will be the second person with Parkinson's disease to reach the edge of space.

British Olympian Jon Goodwin is on the cusp of adding 'astronaut' to his list of accomplishments. Credit: Virgin Galactic

He said: “From becoming an Olympian to canoeing between the peaks of Annapurna, to winning a six day race in the Arctic Circle, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (and cycling back down), I’ve always enjoyed rising to new challenges.

"When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2014, I was determined not to let it stand in the way of living life to the fullest.

"And now for me to go to space with Parkinson’s is completely magical. I hope this inspires all others facing adversity and shows them that challenges don’t have to inhibit or stop them from pursuing their dreams.”

Aberdeen University student Anastatia Mayers along with her Keisha Schahaff will be the first mother-daughter duo to travel to space. Credit: Virgin Galactic

Born in Antigua, Anastatia will join her mother, Keisha Schahaff, to become the first astronauts from Antigua and Barbuda and the first mother and daughter duo to fly to space.

She will also become the second astronaut to have studied at the University of Aberdeen.

Brian Binnie grew up in the Granite City back in the 1950's while his father taught physics, and Brian went on to receive an honorary degree from the institution. In 2004 he piloted SpaceShipOne to space, winning the Ansari X Prize.

Keisha Schahaff won two seats through a fundraising draw benefitting Space for Humanity. Credit: Virgin Galactic

Keisha Schahaff won two seats through a philanthropic fundraising draw benefiting Space for Humanity - non-profit organisation.

Their mission is to send more diverse humans to space and change perspectives, leading Keisha to enter the draw.

Initially shocked to win, she was even more shocked when Sir Richard Branson paid her a visit at her home in Antigua to share the news.

She said: "When I was two years old, just looking up to the skies, I thought, 'How can get there?' But, being from the Caribbean, I didn't see how something like this would be possible. The face 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. "

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