Aberdeen student to board space flight with mum 'not nervous at all'

Anastatia Mayers, who is studying philosophy and physics, will be on Virgin Galactic’s first space tourism flight.

A student at a Scottish university and her mum will become the first mother and daughter to enter space together.

Anastatia Mayers, who is studying philosophy and physics in Aberdeen, will be on Virgin Galactic’s first space tourism flight.

She will become the second youngest astronaut and the second to hail from the University of Aberdeen.

Her mother Keisha Schahaff, 46, has said she is “not nervous at all” about the trip.

Anastatia Mayers alongside former Olympian Jon Goodwin and her mother Keisha Schahaff.Virgin Galactic

Mrs Schahaff and her 18-year-old daughter are set to board VSS Unity for a 90-minute trip into space on August 10 after winning a coveted place in a prize draw.

Former Olympian Jon Goodwin, 80, from Newcastle, is set to join them on the adventure from New Mexico in the US.

They will enter sub-orbital space, where they will briefly experience weightlessness and be able to take in extraordinary views of the planet.

The trip will raise funds for Space for Humanity, a non-profit group which seeks to send ordinary citizens into space to give them a “grander perspective” on the challenges facing Earth.

Mrs Schahaff, from Antigua in the Caribbean, said it has always been a “dream” of hers to enter space.

She said: “All this started a long time ago, when I was a little child I wanted to go to space and become an astronaut but I did not have the grades for it even though I love science.

“I became a young mother and life just went in another direction.

“It all happened when I was on board a Virgin flight from Antigua to London and the advert (for the lottery) popped up with Richard Branson on it.

Virgin Galactic UNITY 25.Virgin Galactic

“At that moment I was shocked and I was like ‘Are you kidding me?’, so I filled out this lottery and I left it alone after that.

“A few months later I started to get emails from Virgin Galactic saying ‘You are a finalist’ and asking me who I would bring into space if I won this.”

Mrs Schahaff said she booked two seats by accident and asked her husband to join her, but he refused, thinking it was “a prank or something”.

She added: “A friend of mine said yes but I thought about it and she has just had a young baby and I don’t see how that is going to be possible.

“I spoke to my daughter and said ‘I don’t know who I am going to bring to space’ and she said ‘Mum, are you kidding me, I will go to space with you.’

“A few weeks later Richard Branson showed up at our house to announce, along with his team, that I was the winner.

“That was mind-blowing. I was just so excited.”

Asked about how she was feeling about the trip, Mrs Schahaff said: “I am not nervous at all, I am just really excited.

“This whole journey for me is a transformation from being a really timid person who was afraid of a lot of things.

“I had to work on myself and I feel this is the moment where everything aligned.”

She said she is looking forward to “falling in love with our whole planet” as she looks back at Earth from space.

Her friends and family have said “only Keisha would say that” and claim they would never go on such a daring adventure.

Mrs Schahaff says she hopes her trip will “inspire people” to overcome their fears and show “dreams can happen”.

The clothing designer said she used to be very shy and scared of heights but has become more confident through daredevil activities such as skydiving and snorkelling.

She described Mr Goodwin, who competed in canoeing at the 1972 Munich Olympics, as “such an amazing person”, adding that he is a “daredevil” who she is looking forward to meeting.

He will be the second person with Parkinson’s disease to reach the edge of space.

Mrs Schahaff’s husband and family members will watch her and her daughter as they take off and land.

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