80-year-old Brit Olympian with Parkinson’s among trio to blast off on Virgin’s first EVER space tourist flight

An 80-year-old Olympian with Parkinson’s is among the trio visiting space on Virgin Galactic’s first tourist flight.

Adventurer Jon Goodwin joins 46-year-old mother of two Keisha Schahaff and daughter Anastatia Mayers on their journey to the edge of space.

A ticket aboard the VSS Unity costs a whopping US$450,000 (£365,000).


A ticket aboard the VSS Unity costs a whopping US$450,000 (£365,000).Photo credit: Virgin Galactic

The crew of three will be the first civilians to take part in a Virgin Galactic space flight.

The VSS Unity spaceplane will launch them Thursday, August 10 from Spaceport America New Mexico for a 90-minute flight into suborbital space.

Goodwin will be the first Olympian to travel to space, having competed in the 1972 Munich Canoe Slalom Games.

Goodwin was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2014. This will make him the second person with the condition to come this close to the rest of the cosmos.

Keisha Schahaff, an Antigua and Barbuda entrepreneur and health and wellness educator, was the lucky winner of two space seats that helped raise $1.7 million (£1.33 million) in grants for Space for Humanity, a non-profit organization that aims to diversify the space sector.

Schahaff is accompanied by one of her two daughters.

Mayers, an 18-year-old student from Antigua and Barbuda, is currently a second-year student in philosophy and physics at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

The pair will be the first mother-daughter duo to travel into space together.

The private passengers have been undergoing spaceflight training for some time and will participate in equipment adjustments, tour and test flights in preparation for the official launch.

The flight will finally fulfill Richard Branson’s dreams of cosmic tourism and earn him a spot alongside other billionaires with big dreams like SpaceX owner Elon Musk and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.

In May, Virgin Galactic received final approval to launch tourists into space after a successful flight with four crew members.

It was the final test run for the VSS Unity spaceplane, with a ticket costing a whopping US$450,000 (£365,000).

Shaking off the anchor of gravity is one of the main draws when spending that much money on an hour-and-a-half experience.

While the flight lasts an hour and a half, the crew will hover around 54 miles above the Earth’s surface for three minutes – where they can experience true weightlessness.

Olympian Jon Goodwin


Olympian Jon GoodwinPhoto credit: Virgin Galactic
Entrepreneur Keisha Schahaff


Entrepreneur Keisha SchahaffPhoto credit: Virgin Galactic
Student Anastatia Mayers


Student Anastatia MayersPhoto credit: Virgin Galactic

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TaraSubramaniam is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. TaraSubramaniam joined Dailynationtoday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: tarasubramaniam@dailynationtoday.com.

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