An Aberdeen University student has told how her ‘unbelievable’ experience of going to space started with deciding to study in the Granite City.
Anastatia Mayers, 18, became the second-youngest person ever to go to space after being chosen to take part in Virgin Galactics’s debut space tourism flight earlier this month.
The philosophy and physics student boarded the VSS Unity with her mum Keisha Scahaff after winning a sweepstake in November 2021.
And the mother-daughter duo credit their experience with Anastatia’s acceptance to study at Aberdeen University – because her mum entered the draw after seeing an advert while travelling to secure her visa to study in Scotland.
Anastatia, who dreams of working with Nasa as an astrobiologist, told The Press and Journal: “It was unbelievable.
“I’m still processing it.
“The closest thing I can think of to compare the speed and the motion is a rollercoaster and that’s not even close enough.
“Launching from the sky was amazing and the overview effect was magical.
“Experiencing that crazy rush, seeing our planet, then realising I am in space – it was truly beautiful.”
Virgin Galactic flight was ‘mind-blowing’
Anastatia and Keisha, from Antigua, became the first mother-daughter duo and the first people from the Caribbean to complete the journey on August 10.
Alongside the pair was John Goodwin, who purchased his ticket for $250,000 back in 2005. He became the first Olympian and the second person with Parkinson’s to go to space.
Also on the flight were pilots CJ Sturckow and Kelly Latimer, as well as Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses.
Following the departure from New Mexico in the mothership VMS Eve, VSS Unity separated into sub-orbital space where the passengers were able to experience weightlessness.
Miss Mayers added: “It was strange and confusing at first, but definitely the most calming state I have ever been in.”
For her mum, the whole journey was a “mind-blowing” personal experience.
The 46-year-old said: “It was a transformational journey for me. It made me feel very proud.
“I’ve always been an adventurer and had that adventurous spirit. Experiencing something for the first time again made me wake up and remind me to just live and not give up on dreams.
“I could feel the magic of space and felt that calming energy, it’s something I brought back with me.”
“It’s the best gift you can give,” Ms Schahaff said. “For my daughter and for the country, being able to inspire other people on this healing journey is really huge.
“Don’t give up on your dreams.”
Ms Schahaff said she also used her skills and knowledge as a wellness coach to emotionally prepare for the journey.
Dreams for the future
Now the Virgin Galactic astronaut mission to space is over, the teenager is excited to return to her second home in Aberdeen and get stuck back into university.
Looking ahead to the future, she hopes to gain more hands-on experience in the field and reach her ultimate goal of becoming an astrobiologist.
She added: “This experience has given me more motivation and made me realise that I am doing the right thing.”