Friday, October 06, 2023
By
Web Desk

Pakistan's Namira Salim to embark on first spaceflight today

The suborbital trajectory will allow passengers several minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth

By
Web Desk
Namira Salim, the first Pakistani woman in space. — X/@namirasalim
Namira Salim, the first Pakistani woman in space. — X/@namirasalim

WASHINGTON: Namira Salim, the founder and chairperson of the nonprofit Space Trust, will become the first Pakistani in space as she braces for her journey beyond the skies today (Friday) with Virgin Galactic.

Ahead of her flight, the space enthusiast said on social media, "Proud to fly the national flag high in space Insha'Allah on October 6."

Trevor Beattie, a British advertising professional, and Ron Rosano, a US astronomy educator, will be Salim's travelling companions. Beth Moses, the chief astronaut instructor at Virgin Galactic, will also be a part of the group.

On Tuesday, Virgin Galactic revealed that it had postponed its upcoming space tourism flight by one day, to Friday, October 6.

Salim is part of the Galactic 04, Virgin Galactic's fourth mission in 2023, and is one of the three paying customers sent into suborbital space and back on Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity space plane.

Virgin's Unity will lift off from New Mexico’s Spaceport America. 

The suborbital trajectory will allow passengers several minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth and a view of the Earth's curvature against the backdrop of outer space as they will not be reaching orbit.

Pakistan's first space pilot

The trio will be taken out of this world on the VMS Eve, which will be piloted by Pakistani-Canadian Jameel Janjua.

Janjua, who has over 4,000 flying hours in over 45 vehicles, will join Kelly Latimer and CJ Sturckow in flying the space plane. Both vehicles will return to Spaceport America after the mission.

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar has also congratulated Namira Salim for becoming the first woman from Pakistan to go to space.

“By proving their mettle as trailblazers in multiple fields, Pakistani women are making the whole nation proud,” Kakar had written on his X account, wishing her luck.

Salim was among the first 100 to purchase Virgin Galactic's ticket in 2006 for $200,000. The cost of her journey has since increased to $450,000.

Namira, a long-time adventurer, became the first Pakistani to visit both the North Pole in April 2007 and the South Pole in January 2008.