Namira Salim has become the first Pakistani woman astronaut, completing a successful journey to space on Saturday.
Salim flew into space on Saturday aboard Virgin Galactic's commercial space flight.
The two-stage flight saw a conventional takeoff from an airstrip in New Mexico, USA, with the Virgin Mother Ship (VMS) Eve carrying the space shuttle, Virgin Space Shuttle (VSS) Unity. On Saturday, the flight took off at 1540 (GMT) with three passengers and five crew.
VMS Eve was piloted by Chief Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses. Commander Nicola Pecile and pilot Jameel Janjua. Janjua is a Pakistani-Canadian pilot. VSS Unity was piloted by Commander Kelly Latimer and Pilot CJ Sturckow
After rising to a height of 45,000 feet (13,700 metres -- nearly 5,000 metres higher than Mount Everest), the second stage of the space flight commenced when VSS Unity undocked from VMS Eve and fired up its rockets to take it into space.
The space shuttle achieved an apogee (highest point travelled) of 54.3 miles (87.39 kilometres) from the surface of the Earth while attaining a top speed of Mach 2.95.
Virgin Galactic showed an image where the commercial passengers, including Salim, British advertising executive Trevor Beattie and American astronomy educator Ron Rosano, looked outside the circular windows as the craft pushed into sub-orbital space.
Spaceflight stats! Dive into the #Galactic04 breakdown:— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) October 6, 2023
⏰ Take-off Time
9:28 AM MDT
📍Altitude at Release
🌎 Landing Time
10:23 am MT
Details → https://t.co/BJ3NiP97UJ pic.twitter.com/60944DLZAc
After completing the hour long journey, the craft landed back on Earth at the Spaceport America in New Mexico at 1643 (GMT).
In a post, Salim simply noted: From Space back to Earth.
From Space back to Earth! Flat Pakistani Astronaut. First Female Virgin Galactic Founder Astronaut! And many more Firsts! ✨🚀✨ pic.twitter.com/yliUjwtQOB— Namira Salim (@namirasalim) October 6, 2023
This was the fourth space flight managed by British aviation tycoon Richard Branson's company having launched flights in 2021. It competes against Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos Blue Origin as private space flight operators.