Virgin Galactic successfully flies tourists to space for first time

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TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. — Spaceport America’s second space tourism flight was a success Thursday morning. These are moments that many in New Mexico and around the world have waited decades for – the breathtaking accomplishment of spaceflight.

There were many firsts this time. This was the first Virgin Galactic tourism flight with private, civilian passengers. The first people from the Caribbean went up – Keisha Schahaff and 18-year-old Anastatia Mayers, a mother-daughter duo who won a lottery.

“I have no words,” Mayers said. “The only thought I had the entire time was, ‘Wow.'”

It’s actually the most women to ever go to space at one time. It was also the first time an Olympian has visited space – 80-year-old Jon Goodwin.

“That was by far the most awesome event I’ve ever done in my life,” Goodwin said.

The flight is built around spending some time in low orbit. The spaceship takes off from the runway, attached to a mothership, and it takes more than a half-hour to get to the altitude they need.

The key moment is when they detach. Then, it’s time for the rocket.

They feel up to 3 G’s pushing against them for a minute, going straight up at 1,000 mph. Once they break through the atmosphere, they reach weightlessness for three minutes. That’s when they can really look out the windows, leaving everything they’ve ever known back on Earth.

Then the spaceship inverts, and as they reenter, the crowd on the ground can hear two sonic booms. Next, it’s a glide downward until they land back on Earth.

The flight shows once again that New Mexico is one of the world’s few gateways into space.

The director of Spaceport told KOB 4 they have ambitious plans to expand – which would mean more operations, more jobs, and much more tax revenue for the state.