How to watch Virgin Galactic's first space tourism flight live
Octogenarian Jon Goodwin will become the first Olympian in space when he flies on board Virgin Galactic’s next mission today.
Mr Goodwin, a canoeist who competed at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, is also the second person with Parkinson’s to travel to space, having been diagnosed with the disease in 2014.
However, he won’t be the oldest person to venture into space – that title belongs to Star Trek actor William Shatner, who made the journey aged 90.
Speaking ahead of the flight, Mr Goodwin said he hopes his journey will prove inspirational to others.
‘From becoming an Olympian to canoeing between the peaks of Annapurna, to winning a six-day race in the Arctic Circle and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I’ve always enjoyed rising to new challenges,’ said Mr Goodwin.
‘When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I was determined not to let it stand in the way of me living life to the fullest. I hope this inspires all others facing adversity and shows them that challenges don’t have to inhibit them or stop them from pursuing their dreams.’
What time is the Virgin Galactic flight?
The mission, dubbed Galactic 02, will be livestreamed on YouTube from 4pm BST.
Joining Mr Goodwin on the flight will be Keisha Schahaff and Anastatia Mayers, the first mother-daughter duo in space who won their seats in a draw that raised $1.7million for non-profit Space For Humanity.
Ms Schahaff is an entrepreneur and wellness coach from Antigua and Barbuda. Her 18-year-old daughter is a student of philosophy and physics at the University of Aberdeen.
They are also the first female astronauts from the Caribbean.
‘When I was two years old, just looking up to the skies, I thought “how can I get there?”,’ said Ms Schahaff. ‘But being from the Caribbean, I didn’t see how something like this would be possible. The fact that I am here, the first to travel in space from Antigua, shows that space really is becoming more accessible.
‘I know I will be changed by my experience, and I hope I will be able to share that energy and inspire the people around me.’
Where does space start?
There is some debate whether those on board Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity reach space or not.
According to Nasa, some place space at the Karman line, defined as an altitude of 60 miles, or 100 kilometres. This is an internationally-recognised boundary.
Named after engineer and physicist Theodore von Kármán, the line was established in the 1960s by an organisation called the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
Kármán wanted to define the point where aeronautics became astronautics.
Others, however, say space begins at 50 miles above sea level. At 55 miles up, VSS Unity is right in between.
Announcing the latest crew, a Virgin Galactic statement read: ‘The dynamic and multinational crew highlights the role the commercial space industry can play in removing barriers that once existed to becoming an astronaut.
‘To date, fewer than 700 people have travelled to space, with little diversity among the group.
‘Virgin Galactic’s mission is to change that – beginning with an 800-strong Future Astronaut community that represents more than 60 different nations.’
Last month Virgin Galactic’s first commercial flight safely carried a crew of three passengers from the Italian Air Force on a 90-minute flight 55 miles above Earth.
However, with tickets costing $450,000 (£343,000), space travel for most will remain out of reach.
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