Watching Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight in Antigua and Barbuda

Richard Branson watching the Galactic 02 spaceflight in Antigua
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 10 August 2023

There’s nothing quite like a Virgin Galactic spaceflight. Today we flew three incredible private passengers to space: Keisha Schahaff, Anastatia Mayers and Jon Goodwin. Congratulations Virgin Galactic commercial astronauts 011, 012 and 013 – welcome to the club!

The Galactic 02 spaceflight from Spaceport America marked our first private astronaut spaceflight, and second commercial spaceflight. There were almost too many milestones on this flight to name, but here’s a few:

  • First female astronauts from the Caribbean

  • First mother-daughter duo to go to space

  • Youngest person to go to space

  • First Olympian to go to space

  • First majority female spaceflight, and most women flown in a single space mission

  • Second person with Parkinson’s to go to space

  • Third oldest person to go to space

  • Sixth and seventh Black women to go to space

  • Virgin Galactic’s seventh spaceflight, third this year and first with all private astronauts

Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic

The crew was rounded out by Beth Moses, Astronaut 002 and Chief Astronaut Instructor. Commander CJ Sturckow piloted VSS Unity alongside Pilot Kelly Latimer, who became the first female commercial pilot to go to space. Congratulations to one and all.

It was a very special experience for me personally being in Antigua and Barbuda to watch the flight alongside many of Keisha and Anastatia’s family and friends, including Anastasia’s dad and Keisha’s mum and sister. There were lots of hugs, tears of joy and cheers of happiness as VSS Unity rocketed into space.

Richard Branson in Antigua for Galactic 02 spaceflight

The last time I was in Antigua and Barbuda was to surprise Keisha and let her know she was going to space. Keisha and Anastatia were the winners of a global contest, and all the proceeds from that sweepstakes will benefit non-profit organisation Space for Humanity.

They are such delightful people. I loved spending time with them at Spaceport America earlier this year alongside Jon, who has been an amazing member of our Virgin Galactic future astronaut community from the very beginning 18 years ago. It’s been so inspiring following his own journey and I’m so happy he has achieved his lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut.

Virgin Galactic's Galactic 02 mission
Jon Goodwin

A huge thanks to Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne and his team for organising a fantastic watch party for everyone to celebrate such a special moment together. I got chance to meet some of the hundreds of students in the audience as part of a STEM program in Antigua and Barbuda. I hope being here today inspires them to keep reaching for the stars knowing that there is no limit to what they can achieve.

It was also wonderful to catch up with Sir Viv Richards, Antigua and Barbuda’s iconic cricketer who has a delightful history with the Virgin brand. He just so happened to be on Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight – “flying the plane” alongside yours truly and Sir Ian Botham. I’ll save that story for another time soon.

Richard Branson and Sir Viv Richards in Antigua

Today marks an extraordinary moment in the history of space exploration and a significant milestone not just for Antigua and Barbuda and the UK, but for the world. I always believed that one day space travel could be accessible for all. Today, that dream is becoming a reality.

Space now belongs to the curious of any age, race, nationality, gender and physical ability. Congratulations to Jon, Keisha and Anastatia for making history today. Their journey is just the beginning.

Head over to Virgin Galactic for more info on today’s flight. Look out for news of Virgin Galactic’s third commercial flight, ‘Galactic 03’, coming soon.