You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Keisha Schahaff of Antigua to be among Virgin Galactic’s first space tourists

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 11/26/2021 Karu F. Daniels

Keisha Schahaff will be the next Black woman to travel in space.

The 44-year-old professional life coach from the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda is the big winner of a fundraising lottery for two tickets on Virgin Galactic’s first commercial space flight.

On Wednesday, Omaze and Virgin Galactic revealed that Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson, Omaze CEO and co-founder Matt Pohlson, and Space For Humanity executive director Rachel Lyons surprised Schahaff at her home in Antigua to share the news that she won.

Keisha S. © Provided by New York Daily News Keisha S.

Keisha S.

“I’ve always had a lifelong love of flying and a fascination with space, and this is truly a dream come true for me,” she said in a statement. “It means the world to me. I hope to share this experience with my daughter, so together we can inspire the next generation to follow their dreams.”

Schahaff won the prize after entering a fundraising lottery organized by Virgin Galactic on the Omaze platform, which raised $1.7 million in grants benefiting Space for Humanity and their Citizen Astronaut Program.

“This is an organization I truly support because I believe in their mission to make it possible to sponsor people from all different diversity all over the world to have the chance to go to space,” she wrote on Facebook Friday.

To date, only four African American women have flown in space — all professional astronauts.

Mae Jemison was the first Black woman to travel to space in 1992, and most recently Dr. Sian Proctor flew to space as part of the Inspiration4 mission, which launched in September.

Boston native Stephanie Wilson was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1996 and has flown as a mission specialist on three space shuttle missions, spending over 42 days in space,

Chicago-reared electrical engineer Joan Higginbotham was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1996 and spent 12 days in space as a mission specialist.

Omaze, a charity fundraising platform that offers the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences and prizes, and Virgin Galactic, revealed that Keisha Schahaff (second from right) from Antigua and Barbuda is the exclusive winner of two seats on a Virgin Galactic commercial space flight. © Provided by New York Daily News Omaze, a charity fundraising platform that offers the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences and prizes, and Virgin Galactic, revealed that Keisha Schahaff (second from right) from Antigua and Barbuda is the exclusive winner of two seats on a Virgin Galactic commercial space flight.

Omaze, a charity fundraising platform that offers the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences and prizes, and Virgin Galactic, revealed that Keisha Schahaff (second from right) from Antigua and Barbuda is the exclusive winner of two seats on a Virgin Galactic commercial space flight.

The sweepstakes kicked off in July following Virgin Galactic’s historic Unity 22 mission, drawing donations from 164,338 people around the world in eight weeks, according to the company.

The amount Schahaff donated was not disclosed, but entry started with a minimum contribution of $10.

The two winning tickets for the proposed trip offering only a few minutes in zero gravity on the space vessel that looks like a large private jet to take place in late 2022.

Virgin Galactic has already reportedly pre-sold some 700 space tickets: 600 between 2005 and 2014 for up to $250,000 apiece, and another 100 since August, when they were relisted for a price of $450,000.

The company’s goal is to sell 1,000 in total before the launch of commercial flights.

“Being able to give people of all ages and backgrounds equal access to space, and in turn, the opportunity to lead and inspire others back on Earth, is what Virgin Galactic has been building toward for the past two decades,” Branson said. “It was remarkable to be there for the beginning of Keisha’s journey to space; she is an extraordinary person who is already inspiring people with the work she does to support women in her home of Antigua and Barbuda.”

The 71-year-old British billionaire continued: “This experience will provide another platform for her to inspire many more people into the future. I couldn’t be happier to see the mission of Virgin Galactic come to life and to work with such amazing partners like Omaze and Space for Humanity in our continued commitment to make space accessible to all.”

Although Schahaff will be among the first of Virgin Galactic’s space tourists, her place in the line has yet to be determined.

“It’s definitely bigger than me and I’m so proud to celebrate with my nation, my people, my community, my island, my Caribbean, our planet, my family, my friends,” she wrote. “This win is what unites us all together as one. We are all in this celebration together. Thank you so much for this journey. We are making history and shifting energies to positivity. Our humanity needs this love and this shift. My prayer is to empower and to unit.”

In addition to experiencing the travel, Schahaff will receive a guided tour of Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built Spaceport in New Mexico, from Branson and the Virgin Galactic team.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from New York Daily News

New York Daily News
New York Daily News
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon