Judy Anderson has always wanted to be out of this world.
Now the University of Manitoba biological sciences professor is on her way, after putting a $20,000 down payment on a flight with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic commercial space flights.
The total cost of the trip will be $200,000.
"I always wanted to float in space, and see a pebble float, and see black space, and watch the Earth curve, and you know, watch the weather and the whole deal."
Anderson said she heard about the trips in 2010 and decided to try. She said she's hopeful she will get to go.
"I really think it will happen. You know, if they go under, I doubt they'll go under, but then I get most of my money back and a lot of excitement to boot. I'm not sure what would stop it at this point, but it is delayed from what we had expected."
Branson told media in April he expected Virgin Galactic to have its first full test flight by the end of the year and for the first flight with passengers to take off in 2018. He and members of his family plan to be on the first passenger flight.
The flight will start at the beginning of the day at the spaceport in New Mexico. All passengers will receive training, Virgin Galactic's website says, and will board SpaceShipTwo. The ship will be attached to a plane called WhiteKnightTwo and together they will climb to an altitude of 50,000 feet.
From there, WhiteKnightTwo will release the ship and SpaceShipTwo's rocket motor will fire up for about one minute. They will have then climbed to at least 100 kilometres above Earth. The passengers will experience about 15 minutes of weightlessness before heading back to their seats and gliding to a landing.
Anderson said she is passenger No. 623 and hopes to fly in 2020.
This isn't Anderson's first attempt to get into space. The professor said she applied to be an astronaut in 1993 and made it through several selection rounds before being cut.
"I would have loved to be one of those astronauts. I know the people they chose were marvelous and that's not a problem at all, but it has been very much one of my interests."
While passengers are screened for health issues, they are also encouraged to go through some G-force training, which Anderson said she did as part of a research project.
"It was a lot of fun to be on that centrifuge. Definitely the G-forces change the way you breathe," she said. "It was the best roller-coaster ever. "
'By the time they were walking on the moon, oh gosh, did I want to go up' - Judy Anderson
Anderson said her love of all things spacey came from her parents, who encouraged their children to "look up."
"We had a little telescope, and it was just one of those things, growing up in the early '60s and hearing about [Russian cosmonaut Yuri] Gagarin going up and then [Alan] Shepard and [John] Glenn and then the moon landing. And by the time they were walking on the moon, oh gosh, did I want to go up."
In the meantime, she is heading to Wyoming to watch Monday's total solar eclipse.
"Wouldn't it be cool to go up in space and see a total eclipse? Of course, you wouldn't see a total eclipse, because you wouldn't be in the right spot."
Correction: We initially reported that Judy Anderson is a professor at the University of Winnipeg. In fact, Judy Anderson is a University of Manitoba professor.
We initially reported that Judy Anderson is a professor at the University of Winnipeg. In fact, Judy Anderson is a University of Manitoba professor.Aug 15, 2017 10:52 AM CT