In less than 10 days’ time, Namira Salim will be boarding the Virgin Galactic 04 spaceflight on an extraordinary expedition that she has dreamed about since childhood.
On Thursday 5th October, Namira Salim, a former Honorary Consul of Pakistan to Monaco, will make history as the first astronaut resident in the Principality and the first Pakistani to venture into space.
“When news broke in 2004 that the first private spaceflight, the $10 million Ansari X Prize winning flight, made it to space successfully, Richard Branson announced that he would license the technology to create Virgin Galactic, the first space line of the world,” says Salim. “I immediately picked up the phone and called Virgin before they had even set up offices to lock the deal and buy my ticket.”
The 48-year-old seasoned adventurer signed the contract in early 2006, becoming the first woman to officially join the programme, and hasn’t looked back since.
“Thrilled to take to the #stars…” she posted earlier this month on social media, “inspiring #girls #women and #youth globally to reach for the stars.”
Reaching for the stars
This will be the fifth spaceflight Virgin Galactic has embarked upon this year and the ninth to date.
This mission will see Galactic 04 journey take off from the spaceport in New Mexico with two other private astronauts aboard – British advertising executive Trevor Beattie and American astronomy educator Ron Rosano – as well as Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses.
Commander Kelly Latimer and Pilot C.J. Sturckow will fly the VSS Unity spaceplane on Galactic 04, while VMS Eve Commander Nicola Pecile and Pilot Jameel Janjua will be at the helm of the carrier plane Eve that takes Unity to 13,700 metres altitude before it travels to suborbital space.
Salim will be “proudly” taking a Monegasque flag, along with that of her home nation, with her on the voyage.
Ever since childhood, Salim says that she has been dreaming of travelling to space, calling it a “historic milestone” as well as a source of inspiration.
Salim is not new to adventure. In 2007, she became the first female resident of the Principality to reach the North Pole. A year later, she made the tough journey to the South Pole as well as securing another mention in the history books when she became the first Asian and first Monaco resident to complete a tandem skydive over Mount Everest during the inaugural Everest Skydive event.
Make sure you’re never left out of the conversation.
Photo supplied by Namira Salim