In August 2023, history was made as Keisha Schahaff, a 46-year-old health coach, and her daughter, 18-year-old Anastatia Mayers, a student at Scotland's University of Aberdeen, soared into outer space from Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert aboard Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity. This groundbreaking journey marked them as the first mother-daughter duo from the Caribbean to venture beyond Earth's atmosphere. Experiencing weightlessness at an altitude of about 55 miles (88 kilometers), Schahaff and Mayers realized their dream after winning a competition in November 2021, making their journey even more remarkable by enjoying the trip, priced at $200,000, free of charge.
The historic moment was shared with the people of St John’s, Antigua, through a large public viewing party. Prime Minister Gaston Browne lauded the duo's "trailblazing journey," encouraging young Antiguans and Barbudians to draw inspiration, declaring that Antigua and Barbuda would forever be remembered among the stars, emphasizing the limitless potential of its people
.In a historic moment for the Caribbean, Keisha Schahaff and her daughter, Anastasia Mayers, have etched their names in the stars as the first women from the region to journey into space. The Antiguan pair won tickets for Virgin Galactic's Galactic 02 spacecraft, making them not only the first Caribbean women but also the first mother-daughter duo to embark on this celestial adventure. Keisha recently visited Jamaica, revealing a unique blend of space exploration and cultural connection.
The tale begins with Schahaff's lifelong dream, fueled by the music of reggae icon Bob Marley, introduced to her by her late father during her childhood. This dream materialized as she explored Trench Town and the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, experiencing the emotional weight of standing where Marley once stood. Schahaff shared, "Just being there...knowing that Bob Marley once walked in this place, sat in this building, and once existed right there was truly emotional for me."
The adventure continued in Jamaica as Schahaff delivered a lecture at Ardenne High School, urging students to pursue their dreams. Despite the tight schedule, Schahaff and Mayers immersed themselves in the vibrant culture of Jamaica, a testament to their adventurous spirits.
Transitioning from the reggae vibes of Jamaica to the cosmic heights of space, Schahaff and Mayers, alongside former British Olympic canoeist Jon Goodwin, became part of Virgin Galactic's historic flight. The journey took them over 55 miles above Earth, offering breathtaking views of the planet's curvature and the vastness of space. At a press conference following the flight, Schahaff expressed her awe, emphasizing that looking at Earth was the most amazing aspect of the entire experience.
The significance of their accomplishment extends beyond personal achievement. Anastasia Mayers, at just a matter of weeks past her birthday, became the youngest person to travel to space. Jon Goodwin, living with Parkinson's disease, added a poignant dimension to the flight, highlighting the inclusivity of space exploration.
Sir Richard Branson, the visionary behind Virgin Galactic, lauded the trio as "incredible" and welcomed them to the exclusive club of commercial astronauts. Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, emphasized the company's core aspirations of increasing access to space and inspiring a diverse global population.
As the Caribbean celebrates the triumph of its first spacefaring women, the intersection of reggae rhythms and cosmic exploration adds a unique flavor to this historic journey. Keisha Schahaff and Anastasia Mayers have not only ventured into the cosmos but also woven a tale that harmonizes the cultural beats of the Caribbean with the boundless expanse of the universe.