SPACEPORT AMERICA, New Mexico—On Thursday morning, Virgin Galactic plans to fly private citizens into space for the first time.
The company’s VSS Unity spacecraft is due to be released from its carrier aircraft after 9 am local time (15:00 UTC), and it will then rocket above an altitude of 80 km. The vehicle will carry two pilots (CJ Sturckow and Kelly Latimer), company representative Beth Moses, and three private customers.
The private astronauts are an interesting mix. They include the company’s first paying customer, an 80-year-old named Jon Goodwin, who competed for Great Britain in the 1972 Munich Olympics as a canoeist. He is joined by Keisha Schahaff and Anastatia Mayers, a Caribbean mother-daughter duo whose tickets were purchased by the nonprofit Space for Humanity in order to broaden access to space.