Virgin Galactic’s first civilian spaceflight launches with Olympian onboard

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    Virgin Galactic's first-ever civilian spaceflight has taken off, with prize-winning passengers setting off on a voyage in suborbital space.

    The Richard Branson-funded flight launched from Spaceport America, New Mexico, with passengers having already been led through the rigorous training needed to prepare them for space travel.

    The three-person crew aboard the VSS Unity will spend 90-minutes in suborbital space, with passengers Jon Goodwin, 80, as well as Omaze winners Keisha Schahaff, 46, and Anastatia Mayers, 18, on board.

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    It marks the second man with Parkinson's disease and the first mother and daughter duo to experience space travel.

    Mr Goodwin, an adventurer and former Olympian, will mark the second person to travel to space with Parkinson's, the first being NASA astronaut Michael Clifford.

    Fellow passenger Keisha Schahaff, an entrepreneur and health and wellness coach, bagged her seat on the flight during a historic sweepstakes.

    She and daughter Anastatia Mayers will become the first mother-daughter duo to travel into space together after a £1.3million ($1.7million) sweepstakes win.

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    Mr Branson, the philanthropist behind the spaceflight, said he was "proud" of the "historic" flight which would set records for mother-daughter duos in space.

    He was spotted hugging it out with Keisha's mum Florence on the ground at Antigua and Barbuda to watch the historic spaceflight take off.

    Anastatia, at 18-years-old, will mark the youngest astronaut in space, while 1972 Munich Olympian Mr Goodwin, who was diagnosed with Parkinsons in 2014, will fulfil his dream of space travel.

    He adds space travel to a long list of accomplishments following his diagnosis, which includes climbing up and cycling down Mt. Kilimanjaro.

    Training for the spaceflight mission saw the trio flown around in space-like conditions at the Spaceport America base, with the Galactic 02 crew training in the N48VG Virgin Galactic chase plane.

    A launch release from Virgin Galactic read the mission would be "crewed by our first private astronauts who will also become the first Olympian and first astronauts from Antigua & Barbuda to journey to space."

    The trio became astronauts at 290,000ft, 88 and a half miles from the ground, with an ascent back down to earth now underway.

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