1 of 2 | Anastatia Mayers, Jon Goodwin, and Keisha Schahaff will become the first all-civilian crew to fly on Virgin Galactic's second commercial flight when it lifts off Thursday. Photo courtesy of Virgin Galactic
Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Virgin Galactic on Thursday launched its second commercial spaceflight and its first to carry an all-civilian crew including the first Caribbean astronauts, on the mission called Galactic-02.
A mother, her daughter and an 80-year-old former Olympian lifted off from the commercial Spaceport America in New Mexico aboard Virgin Galactic's reusable space plane VSS Unity for the 90-minute flight, which included three minutes of total weightlessness in suborbital space, 53 miles above Earth
The VSS Unity was carried aboard the VMS Eve Spaceship Carrier aircraft before separating at about 50,000 feet and flying to the edge of space under its own power.
While VSS Unity does not reach orbit, its trajectory and altitude create several minutes of weightlessness as the crew was able to view the curvature of Earth against black space.
After completing its suborbital flight and adjusting its orientation the three astronauts, Keisha Schahaff, Anastatia Mayers and Jon Goodwin re-entered the Earth's atmosphere as the VSS Unity glided to its landing strip in New Mexico.
"Welcome back to Earth Galactic 02! Our pilots, crew and spaceship have landed smoothly at Spaceport America, New Mexico," Virgin Galactic posted on X, at 11:39 a.m.
Thursday's flight was the company's seventh trip to space.
Schahaff, 46, and her daughter Mayers, 18, became the first mother-daughter duo to travel to space. Both are from Antigua and Barbuda, which will make them the first astronauts from the Caribbean.
Schahaff and Mayers won their spots through a lottery benefiting the nonprofit Space for Humanity.
Schahaff told NBC that she was looking forward to "looking back and seeing a beautiful planet and then looking across to see my daughter's face while she's looking at it as well."
Mayers is a college student at Aberdeen University in Scotland, where she is studying philosophy and physics, and became the second youngest astronaut to fly.
"I'm hoping to give myself that confidence to try new things and be a little bit uncomfortable sometimes," Mayers said.
Jon Goodwin, 80, is a record-holding Olympian from Britain who competed in the slalom canoe event in the 1972 Olympics in Munich. While he became the first Olympian astronaut in space, Goodwin also became the second person diagnosed with Parkinson's to fly.
"The fact that I'm suffering with Parkinson's for 9 years just shows you this attitude of space for all is a wonderful attitude," Goodwin said in an interview with Virgin Galactic.
In June, Virgin Galactic completed its first commercial flight carrying three Italians to suborbital space. Each of the passengers paid $450,000 for the ride. Despite the high price, there are more than 800 people on the waitlist, according to Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson.