Galactic Unite scholars' adventure at Spaceport America

Galactic Unite
Galactic Unite
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
14 July 2023
Students from the Galactic Unite Scholarship programme, based at the University of Leicester, recently took part in a four-day immersive experience at Spaceport, New Mexico – just a week ahead of Virgin Galactic’s first ever commercial spaceflight.

Galactic Unite is Virgin Galactic’s outreach initiative, born out of a unique collaboration between the Future Astronaut community and Virgin Unite. Galactic Unite seeks to drive positive change for young people by channelling collective energy and resources. It works to ensure that future generations are equipped to apply a planetary perspective to Earth’s greatest challenges.

To date, Galactic Unite scholarships have awarded more than $1.5M to over 150 students worldwide, in celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). This has been made possible thanks to the incredible support from people like Paul Williams, the founder of the Galactic Unite Scholarship at the University of Leicester.

Galactic Unite
Galactic Unite

Alongside Paul and the Galactic Unite team, the six students embarked on a journey of learning, play, and adventure. It included thrilling simulator flights led by Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot Dave Mackay, the creation of personal mission statements, and the chance to meet members of the Virgin Galactic community.

The ‘What’s Your Mission?’ session helped students identify their own, personal space missions – a guided session helping the scholars articulate their strongest values and principles. The group explored what is most important to them as they head into careers, graduate degrees, or other paths – and were reminded to align their future path with their deeper purpose. Though they found the process challenging, in the end, they all wrote out and shared their statements with the group. In a lovely development, they all centred on helping and supporting others.

Galactic Unite
Galactic Unite

“The Galactic Unite scholarship based at the University of Leicester is one of the projects I am most proud of during my 35 years in tech,” said Paul Williams. “Over the last three years, we have been getting to know these incredible students and continuing to build a wonderful relationship between us, the education outreach community at Virgin Galactic, and the mentors from Virgin Galactic and the Future Astronaut community.”

Scholars and mentors alike marvelled at how close Virgin Galactic was to achieving its mission of broadening access to space to people around the world – everyone was delighted to see VSS Unity and VMS Eve just a few days ahead of that incredible milestone.

“It was truly a magical and unforgettable time for all involved, and I'm certain that the memories created will last a lifetime,” said Maja Muric, director of Galactic Unite.

The participating scholars are now either embarking on their own careers or heading into further studying. Regardless of the next steps, all were grateful to visit Virgin Galactic HQ, learn from the team, and take in the beauty of the spaceship and its surroundings.

“Everyone gave the scholars the most gracious and kind engagement, happy to share their perspective and passion for this incredible project,” said Williams. “To see such single-minded dedication, excellence, teamwork, and love for the work at Virgin Galactic definitely gave the students something to ponder as they carry on their young adult lives in education and industry.”

Visit Galactic Unite to learn more about its work and the scholarships on offer.