Virgin Galactic's next flight will take a Pakistani to space for the 1st time

earth as seen from virgin galactic's vss unity suborbital space plane.
The view from Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity space plane during its Galactic 02 spaceflight on Aug. 10, 2023. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

Namira Salim will make spaceflight history next month.

The adventurer will become the first Pakistani to reach space on Virgin Galactic's next mission, called "Galactic 04," which is scheduled to launch from New Mexico's Spaceport America on Oct. 5.

"Thrilled to take to the #stars with @trevorbmbagency and @ronrosano aboard #Galactic04 with @virgingalactic. Inspiring #girls #women and #youth globally to reach for the stars," Salim posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) on Sunday (Sept. 17).

Related: Virgin Galactic launches 3 of its original space tourist customers to the final frontier (video)

Galactic 04 will carry three customers to suborbital space and back. Salim shouted out the other two in her post — British advertising executive Trevor Beattie and American astronomy educator Ron Rosano.

Joining these space tourists in the cabin of Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity space plane will be Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic's chief astronaut instructor. Kelly Latimer and C.J. Sturckow will fly the VSS Unity space plane on Galactic 04, and Nicola Pecile and Jameel Janjua will be at the controls of VMS Eve, the carrier plane that hauls Unity off the ground. (Eve drops Unity at an altitude of about 45,000 feet, or 13,700 meters; the space plane then lights up its rocket motor to get to suborbital space.)

As its name suggests, Galactic 04 will be Virgin's fourth commercial spaceflight. The previous three have all launched recently — in June, August and September, respectively.

Salim, the founder and chairperson of the nonprofit Space Trust, is a longtime adventurer. According to her website, she's the first Pakistani to visit both the North Pole (in April 2007) and the South Pole (in January 2008). 

She was one of the first 100 people to buy a ticket with Virgin Galactic, having booked her ride in 2006. Back then, the price was $200,000; it has since risen to $450,000.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.