Virgin Galactic: Student Ana Mayers on going to space with her mum

“Being in space and seeing the Earth with your own eyes is such a peaceful and loving experience.”

Two weeks ago, 18-year-old Ana Mayers was experiencing zero gravity in space. Oh and she went with her mum.

The pair, along with former Olympian Jon Goodwin, were on Virgin Galactic’s first tourist flight – making them the first mother-daughter duo to fly to space together.

Fast forward a fortnight and Ana is heading to the University of Aberdeen to continue her philosophy and physics degree.

“The whole experience was just so connecting and emotional,” she says.

“It’s just an unbelievably beautiful view, it’s incredible.

“It’s made me a lot more aware of the fact that we need to appreciate Earth and use this opportunity to really explore and find a connection with nature.”

Anastatia (Ana) Mayers, Jon Goodwin and Keisha Schahaff hug after their voyage to space. Jon has his arms around Ana, on his left, and Keisha on his right. Ana, an 18-year-old black woman, has her hair styled in long braids tied back in a pony tail. She has piercings on the bridge of her nose, her septum and her lip and smiles at the camera. She wears a black T-shirt with 'Galactic' written in purple on it - Jon is wearing the same T-shirt and looks emotional while smiling at the camera. Jon is a white man in his 80s and has short white hair and a white beard and wears rimless glasses. To his right is Keisha, a black woman in her 40s, who is also smiling and looking emotional. Keisha has her hair, dyed blonde, in braids down to her middle tied back behind her head. She wears a white, brown, green and orange striped T-shirt and holds her right hand to her face.IMAGE SOURCE,VIRGIN GALACTIC
Image caption,

Ana, her mum Keisha and Jon Goodwin were all smiles after their 90-minute trip into space

Ana and her mum Keisha Schahaff, 46, got their place on the trip-of-a-lifetime after winning a competition.

And Ana says she was actually asleep in her uni halls when she got the news.

“My mum FaceTimed me at a really random time that night and it was just my face on the screen, you couldn’t see anything else,” she says.

“Richard Branson took the phone, I was flabbergasted.”

The pair, along with 80-year-old Jon, took off from Spaceport America in New Mexico on 10 August.

The flight lasted about 90 minutes and they experienced zero gravity at an altitude of around 85km (280,000ft) where they got a very special view of the planet.

Unsurprisingly there was a lot of training to prepare the space tourists for their trip, but Ana says she had “no nerves” when it was finally time for take-off.

“It feels like you’re on like just a normal commercial flight, it was very peaceful,” she says.

“But I do remember when they started counting down like saying three minutes to release, one minute to release, I was like ‘oh my God, this is really happening’.

“I was just so filled with excitement.”

Anastatia pictured at her work at a burrito bar in Aberdeen. Ana is a young black woman with her hair worn in long braids, some coloured white and purple, tied back in a pony tail and worn beneath a work cap. She also wears a grey work apron over a grey T-shirt. She has piercings on the bridge of her nose, her septum and her lip and is smiling at the camera. She holds a burrito wrapped in foil to resemble a rocket ship.
Image caption,

Ana works at a burrito bar in Aberdeen and says she considers the city her second home

Ana says she doesn’t feel like she’s “been so engaged with anything in my life” as the trip to space.

And now she’s returned to Earth, lots of people have started to look to her as an inspiration.

“I’m so honoured to be able to inspire so many people,” she says.

“I definitely hope that it’s opening people’s minds up, not only just for space but for other things in life.

“I hope it’s inspiring them to really take themselves seriously and to put in the work and the effort.

“You really do have to be open and ready for opportunities to find you.”

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