Mother, grandmother of Antiguan astronauts shares her experience observing their historic journey

Florence Alli, mother and grandmother of Antiguan astronauts with Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson
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By Latrishka Thomas

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Travelling to space evokes a blend of fear and excitement, and on Thursday, two courageous women took a giant leap for humanity, etching their names into the annals of history.

Keisha Schahaff and her daughter Anastasia Mayers defied earthly limitations to venture into space on Thursday, becoming not only the first mother and daughter pair to journey to space, but also the first individuals from the Caribbean to do so.

Mayers also became the second youngest person ever to embark on this journey, which their family members, residents and well-wishers viewed from Earth as they hoped and prayed for their safe return.

Schahaff’s mother and Mayers’ grandmother, Florence Alli, was part of a watch party in Antigua and Barbuda where friends, family members and others gathered to witness this extraordinary feat.

Alli’s feelings mirrored the exhilaration and anxiety that accompanies such monumental moments. In her words, “I pray, I pray, I pray, I pray; every minute of the day and I think about it, I pray. I get good dreams, I get bad dreams, but coming up to the time of them going into space, all good dreams I was getting,” she said.

As the spacecraft rose into the skies, hopes and fears accompanied it. Alli’s gaze, like many others, was fixed upon the heavens, hoping for their safe return.

“I was very scared; I just wanted to see them come back down,” she admitted.

She, however, described the observation of the momentous occasion as “out of this world” and “really exciting”.

Alli, who was seated next Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson, said that was exhilarating especially with him being at her side.

“I always feel excited being in his company; he makes you feel happy,” she said.

Alli said breathed a sigh of relief the moment the spacecraft touched back down on earth, and both she and Branson were observed crying tears of joy.

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Family members of the Caribbean’s first mother and daughter astronauts.
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