Dubai: Dubai resident Namira Salim will become the first Pakistani space tourist when she takes the commercial flight from US as part of the Virgin Galactic 04 Space Mission on Friday, October 6.
Namira, who completed her three-day pre-flight training on October 5, told Gulf News that she has been waiting for this moment for the last 17 years. In 2006, Namira had joined Virgin Galactic’s Founder Astronaut Club as one of the first 100 future space tourists for a sub-orbital space flight on Virgin Galactic’s commercial space liner. She is the only Pakistani aspiring space tourist to purchase a ticket for Virgin Galactic’s future commercial space liner.
Pakistan Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar also tweeted to congratulate Namira. “Good luck Namira Saleem. I wish you success when you are ready to make history on October 6 by becoming the first Pakistani woman to travel to space,” he tweeted. He further said Pakistani women are making the whole nation proud by proving their mettle as trailblazers in multiple fields.
“I am so looking forward to experience weightlessness in space and to become the first Pakistani women ‘astronaut’,” Namira said after taking her training flight at Spaceport America — the world’s first purpose built commercial spaceport in New Mexico, USA.
“I’m excited to finally break the orbit and I’m looking forward to going to space with my favourite fellow Founders,” she added.
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About her training session, she said: “We learnt about fitting our spacesuits and parachutes to perfection. We were also trained about the functionality of our custom-made seats in the spaceship and how to fasten and unfasten our seat belts so we leave our seats in zero gravity well-oriented and take the necessary steps to maximise our experience in space. We also learnt to make gentle movements not to bump into windows or fellow astronauts and how to naturally drift when floating in zero gravity.”
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings has officially disclosed that the Galactic 04 flight window is set to commence on October 6, 2023. The spacecraft will carry three passengers including Namira who will experience five-minutes of weightlessness in space and then fly back to Spaceport.
Sharing her journey Namira said: “It seems like yesterday when in March 2006, Branson came to Dubai with the inaugural flight of Virgin Atlantic. He also chose the occasion to launch his recently established Spaceline, Virgin Galactic in the UAE.
“I was fortunate to have been the first customer of Virgin Galactic from the UAE. Being a longtime resident of Dubai since 1981, Bransonintroduced me to global press in Dubai. ”
During her long journey, Namira has attended every milestone event in the presence of Branson and fellow ‘Founder Astronauts’, seeing the birth of Virgin’s MotherShipEve, named after Branson’s mother and Virgin Galactic’s fleet of commercial Space Ships.
Space Tourism is about making space accessible to all and it is about a viable consumer industry which will see the price per ticket become affordable over the next decade or so for anyone who has dreamt of going to space. The space flight cost Namira and other passengers more than US$200,000 per person. Trevor Beattie, a British marketing executive and Ron Rosano, astronomy educator from US.
In total, six people will fly to space on Galactic 04. Mission commander Kelly Latimer and pilot C.J. Sturckow will be at the helm of VSS Unity. In the cabin, three private passengers will ride alongside Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses.
“I have invested in the future of commercial space flight for the commonman. This is not for the rich and famous and it’s not an exclusive club, rather it’s all-inclusive,” commented Namira.
Galactive 04 Space Mission
Galactic 04 will carry a three-person crew accompanied by the company’s head astronaut instructor, as well as the two pilots at the helm of Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo vehicle, VSS Unity. Their flight to the edge space is scheduled to take place on Friday, (Oct. 6).
The mission will take off from Spaceport America in New Mexico. VSS Unity and its crew will be brought to altitude by the spaceplane’s double-cockpit carrier aircraft, VMS Eve, which will release VSS Unity at around 50,000 feet (15,000 meters). After release, a firing of VSS Unity’s rocket motor will put it on a suborbital trajectory, bringing the space plane and crew to the edge of space for a few minutes of weightlessness and a great view of their home planet.
Who is Namira Salim?
Namira, born in Karachi, has been living in the UAE since 1981. She is also resident of Monaco.
On March 23, 2011, President of Pakistan conferred on Namira the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Medal of Excellence) — the highest civil award in Pakistan — for achievement in sport, including her trips to the poles and the Everest skydiving event.
She was the first Pakistani to have reached the North Pole in April 2007 and the South Pole in January 2008.
She is also founder of Space Trust, a non-profit initiative that promotes Space as the New Frontier for Peace.
Namira has also served as Honorary Ambassador of Tourism for Pakistan, appointed by the Ministry of Tourism.
She was awarded the Power 100 Trailblazer Award by Pakistan Power 100, in London in September 2013 for her efforts to promote international peace and harmony.
She also holds the distinction of being the first Asian and first Pakistani to skydive over Mount Everest during the historic First Everest Skydives 2008.