She became the first astronaut from Monaco to travel into space last week aboard the Galactic 04. Now back on Earth, Namira Salim shares her story with Monaco Life.
History was made on Friday 6th October, when Monaco resident and Pakistan native Namira Salim became the first person to represent either nation on a journey into space. Indeed, Salim carried the flag of Monaco with her during the spaceflight.
She took off from Spaceport America just before 4.30pm local Monaco time and travelled 87.3km above the Earth, reaching a top speed of Mach 2.95 before spending several minutes experiencing zero gravity conditions.
“It went very well, it was very quick,” Salim tells Monaco Life. “In zero gravity, I had a very good view… Besides seeing the black sky and the beautiful Earth, which doesn’t show any borders or boundaries, we also saw the Half Moon, which is incredible. It couldn’t have been better.”
It was brief, this apex moment of the spaceflight, lasting all of three minutes, but it has clearly made an impact on Salim.
“I was able to look down on Earth from the top window because the spaceship was upside down in apogee,” she says. “The beauty of the view exceeded my expectations.”
Within an hour of their initial departure, Salim and the team onboard the Galactic 04 were back on solid ground. It included British advertising executive Trevor Beattie, American astronomy educator Ron Rosano and Chief Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses as well as Commander Kelly Latimer and Pilot CJ Sturckow on VSS Unity, and Commander Nicola Pecile and Pilot Jameel Janjua at the controls of VMS Eve.
For many, this would be the ultimate adventure, but for Salim, a serial “Collector of Firsts”, this historic spaceflight has done nothing more than speed her on to dreams of other great challenges.
“It was 18 years ago that I started my journey with Virgin Galactic,” she says. “I was born dreaming of going to space and reaching for the stars. I always believed [in this dream] as a child. I had no idea how I would do it, but I was sure that I would [achieve] it one day. I think that we are just lucky to be born in a new space age where space has become commercial, and it has become accessible to not only all sectors, but to all countries that don’t have a full spaceflight programme. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time when Virgin Galactic happened.”
So, what can possibly follow up a voyage to the edge of space? “The next list of adventures?” she responds, “I want to reach for the stars even higher and I’m looking forward to my next spaceflight… And I will continue to promote space as the new frontier for peace on Earth through my non-profit space trust.”
For the time being, however, Salim is making her way back to Monaco, just in time for cosmic highlight in the Principality’s events calendar: the 2023 edition of Elevate Monte-Carlo, the space and sustainability conference set to take place from 17th to 19th October at the Grimaldi Forum.
Watch Namira Salim’s spaceflight on Monaco Life’s YouTube video below…
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Photos courtesy of Virgin Galactic