A Winnipeg woman will be among the first group of Canadians to board Virgin Galactic‘s space plane when it begins commercial flights.
Judy Anderson, a retired University of Manitoba professor, has been saving for her trip to space since 2010, when she first found out about billionaire Richard Branson’s plans to take people off the planet.
“I’m so looking forward to it,” Anderson said.
Anderson purchased ticket 623 for $200,000 USD at the time with a $20,000 down payment. She’ll have to pay the rest in full about three months before her flight.
“We have over half in U.S. dollars,” she said. ”I’ll eat macaroni and cheese for the rest of my life.”
Branson joined five company employees for a successful test flight Sunday morning, which took off from New Mexico’s southern desert.
Anderson skipped breakfast to watch it unfold on three different monitors.
“It was pretty awesome,” she said. “I didn’t expect to be as excited as I was.”
Anderson has dreamed of leaving the planet for decades and attempted to become an astronaut in 1993.
Although she didn’t make the cut, she never gave up on her dream of one day making it to space.
“I just love the idea of floating and seeing the earth from up in space, you know, seeing the curvature of the earth,” she said. “It’s just like science and art and beauty all combined.”
Virgin Galactic is offering two astronaut hopefuls a chance to win a spot on one of its first commercial flights through the charity Omaze.
“If enough people all over the world participate, it just means the charity can keep on doing tickets for people,” Branson said. “It’s a lovely self-propelling way to get people who otherwise couldn’t afford to go to space, to go to space.”
Virgin Galactic’s commercial flights for ticket-paying customers aren’t expected to begin until at least next year.
Each flight holds six passengers, meaning Anderson should be on the 104th one, but because she isn’t sure how often flights will be scheduled, it’s not clear how long it will be until it’s her turn.