Antiguan Mother Daughter team flies to space with Virgin Galactic.

In a breathtaking testament to human achievement, Keisha Schahaff and her daughter Anastatia Mayers of Antigua and Barbuda have inscribed their names into the annals of celestial history as the Caribbean’s trailblazers in space exploration. Their extraordinary odyssey commenced on August 10, 2023, as the Virgin Galactic 02 Spacecraft roared to life at Spaceport America in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

The air was charged with anticipation, and the global community held its breath as Keisha, Ana, and their fellow crewmate, former 1972 Olympian Jon Goodwin, embarked on a journey that embodied courage, determination, and an unwavering pursuit of the cosmos. The launch achieved historic milestones in space travel and stood as a testament to humanity’s unyielding spirit and Virgin Galactic’s mission of democratizing access to space.

At just eighteen years old, Ana became the youngest person to venture into space, breaking the record by two weeks. Keisha and Ana also marked themselves as the first mother-daughter duo and the inaugural representatives from the Caribbean to embark on this celestial journey. Additionally, they became the sixth and seventh Black women to travel to space.

The entire nation of Antigua and Barbuda united in a triumphant display of national pride, with celebrations resonating from sun-drenched beaches to the heart of every village and town. The Virgin Galactic Global Livestream of the spaceflight was projected onto massive screens at a public Watch Party in Antigua. Images of local festivities were shared with a global audience, accompanied by live commentary from astronaut Christopher Huie and an interview with Antigua’s Prime Minister, discussing the significance of this unique moment for the twin island nation. The impact of this monumental achievement reverberated worldwide, serving as an inspirational beacon and a unifying force transcending geographical boundaries.

Concurrently with the launch festivities, a separate yet poignant event unfolded in Antigua and Barbuda. Sir Richard Branson, the visionary behind Virgin Galactic, was honoured by the Prime Minister with an intricately carved sailboat, symbolizing the nation’s deep-rooted maritime heritage. In return, Sir Richard Branson presented the Prime Minister with a meticulously crafted, to-scale replica of the Virgin Galactic 02 Spacecraft, embodying the shared journey towards boundless horizons.

Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Gaston Browne remarked, “Today, as we commemorate Keisha and Ana’s extraordinary odyssey, we are reminded that our connection to Antigua and Barbuda runs as deep as the endless expanse of space. Their achievement encapsulates the essence of our nation—unyielding determination, limitless aspiration, and a commitment to forging new frontiers.”

The Minister of Tourism of Antigua and Barbuda, the Hon. Charles “Max” Fernandez, also shared in the excitement, stating, “Keisha and Ana’s historic voyage invites the world to discover the wonders of Antigua and Barbuda, where limitless horizons meet pristine landscapes. Their journey encapsulates the spirit of adventure that defines our nation.”

Upon her safe return to Earth, Keisha expressed, “That was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had, and… Antigua went to space! A childhood dream has become a reality. I journeyed to space and back with my daughter… everyone delivered exactly as promised, and in case anyone was curious—Earth is indeed round.”

Keisha and Ana have etched their legacy among the stars in an age marked by unrelenting progress. Their expedition shines as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, kindling hope and inspiring generations to explore uncharted territories.

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