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Antigua's First Astronaut!

The words ‘Antigua’ and ‘Astronaut’ don’t usually appear in the same sentence. But thanks to local health and energy coach Keisha Schahaff, they do now!

Matt Pohlson (Omaze), Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), Keisha Schahaff and Rachel Lyons (Space for Humanity).
Keisha Schahaff, winner of Omaze and Virgin Galactic sweepstake. Photo courtesy Virgin Galactic.

Keisha will soon become Antigua & Barbuda’s first person in space, having won an international sweepstake organised by Omaze in association with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. The 8-week fundraising initiative drew donations from over 160,000 people, the proceeds going to Space for Humanity, a non-profit citizen astronaut programme. And as Keisha’s prize was two seats aboard a Virgin Galactic commercial space flight, her 17-year-old daughter can go along for the ride too — this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is surely a dream come true for an astrophysics student with ambitions to work at NASA.

Sir Richard Branson surprised Keisha at her Antiguan home last November, alongside Omaze’s Matt Pohlson, and Space for Humanity’s Rachel Lyons. Sir Richard will also be treating the thrilled mother to a tour of Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built spaceport located in New Mexico, USA. Keisha will become the first person from the Caribbean to become a member of Virgin Galactic’s 700-strong Future Astronaut community.

Virgin Galactic was established almost two decades ago with the goal of making space travel accessible to everyone. The first fully-crewed flight took place in July 2021 with Sir Richard and five other team members flying 53.5 miles above the earth’s surface. Space travel tickets usually cost US$450,000 each, not that Antigua’s first astronauts need to start saving, of course!


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