Former Olympian with Parkinson’s becomes oldest Brit to go to space
Space tourist Jon Goodwin reached for the stars and jumped for joy yesterday after racking up a string of out-of-this world achievements.
The 80-year-old Parkinson’s sufferer with the motto “anything is possible” defied the disease to become Virgin Galactic’s first paying passenger, Britain’s oldest astronaut and the first Olympian to venture into the cosmos.
And, despite paying more than £197,000 for his ticket on VSS Entity in 2005– about £300,000 in today’s money – his wife Pauline said: “He thinks he got a bargain!”
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After coming back down to Earth at Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert, Jon said: “That is the most awesome thing I have done in my life. The pure beauty of the Earth…is completely surreal.”
He added: “I am hoping my flight will instil in other people – and other Parkinson’s sufferers – that it doesn’t stop you from doing things.”
Jon, from Baldwin’s Gate, Staffs, competed at the 1972 Munich Olympics as a slalom canoeist. He shared his latest adventure with two other tourists, Keisha Schahaff, 46, and her daughter Anastatia Mayers, 18, who won their trip in a lottery draw.
VSS Unity was carried to 50,000ft by the twin-fuselage mothership VMS Eve. It then fired its rocket-powered motor and shot off at 2,600mph to reach sub-orbital space 55 miles up.
The space plane raised its wings for re-entry, then lowered them to glide back down onto a runway.
Thrilled Jon hailed it: “The greatest of days.”
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