23 November 2021

Omaze and Virgin Galactic Announce Winner of Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip to Space

Virgin-Galactoc-Omaze-Winner-1-2560x1440.jpeg

Today, Omaze, the charity fundraising platform that offers the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences and prizes, and Virgin Galactic, revealed that Keisha S. from Antigua and Barbuda is the exclusive winner of two seats on a Virgin Galactic commercial space flight. Born and raised in Antigua, Keisha is a health and energy coach who is passionate about empowering women to live their best lives. She has always had a lifelong dream of going to space, and hopes to bring her daughter, an astrophysics student, as her guest on this incredible journey.

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson, Omaze CEO and co-founder Matt Pohlson, and Space For Humanity executive director Rachel Lyons surprised Keisha at her home in Antigua to share the news that she won.

The sweepstakes kicked off in July following Virgin Galactic’s historic Unity 22 mission, and drew donations from 164,338 people around the world in eight weeks to raise a projected $1.7M in grants benefiting Space for Humanity and their Citizen Astronaut Program. These anticipated grants from Charities Aid Foundation America (CAF America), will help Space for Humanity transform perspectives and train candidates to ensure an inclusive future in space.

“Being able to give people of all ages and backgrounds equal access to space, and in turn, the opportunity to lead and inspire others back on Earth, is what Virgin Galactic has been building towards for the past two decades,” said Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic Founder. “It was remarkable to be there for the beginning of Keisha’s journey to space; she is an extraordinary person who is already inspiring people with the work she does to support women in her home of Antigua and Barbuda. This experience will provide another platform for her to inspire many more people into the future. I couldn’t be happier to see the mission of Virgin Galactic come to life and to work with such amazing partners like Omaze and Space for Humanity in our continued commitment to make space accessible to all.”

Omaze offers people the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences to support charities around the world. Their unique model allows for people who dream big to experience truly out of this world opportunities.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce Keisha as the winner of our biggest experience offering to date,” said Matt Pohlson, CEO and Co-Founder of Omaze. “Omaze exists to dream the world better. Not only will a lifelong stargazer get to experience space, but this also helps Space for Humanity open up that opportunity to even more people. Because of that, the partnership with Virgin Galactic and Space for Humanity was a dream come true for Omaze too.”

Keisha will also join Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronaut community, as the first person from the Caribbean islands. The Future Astronaut community is an established and growing family of 700 individuals from over 60 countries, all united by a shared passion for adventure and the desire to push the boundaries of humankind. Through being a member of this community, Keisha and her fellow Future Astronauts will be invited to participate in extraordinary experiences to make new connections and prepare for their journey into space. Along with space anticipation and space readiness, the Future Astronaut community uses its collective power as a force for good by inspiring students to study STEM through their involvement with Galactic Unite.

“I’ve always had a lifelong love of flying and a fascination with space, and this is truly a dream come true for me,” said Keisha. “It means the world to me. I hope to share this experience with my daughter, so together we can inspire the next generation to follow their dreams.”

In addition to experiencing the wonder of space travel, Keisha will receive a guided tour of Gateway To Space, Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built Spaceport in New Mexico, from Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Galactic team. You can download all press materials including images and video from the Virgin Galactic Press Assets.

For more information on Virgin Galactic, please visit: https://www.virgingalactic.com/

For more information on Omaze, please visit: https://www.omaze.com/

 About Omaze

Omaze is an online fundraising platform that offers the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences and prizes to support nonprofits around the world. Through the Omaze platform, people from more than 180 countries have made donations that support over 400 charities, driving substantial levels of awareness for their work. Omaze has raised more than $150M for causes to date and was named to the 2020 list of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies.

This experience raises funds for Charities Aid Foundation America (“CAF America”), a US-registered, 501(c)(3) public charity. 100% of donations for this experience go to CAF America, which will then grant the donations, minus the experience fees and costs, to Space for Humanity. The grant figures provided are expected only, and the final amount to be granted to Space for Humanity from CAF America will be confirmed following the flight.

About Virgin Galactic Holdings

Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. is a space travel company, pioneering human spaceflight for private individuals and researchers with its advanced air and space vehicles. It is developing a spaceflight system designed to offer customers a unique and transformative experience. You can find more information at https://www.virgingalactic.com/

About Space for Humanity

Space for Humanity is expanding access to space for all of humanity. The nonprofit is organizing the planet’s first Sponsored Citizen Astronaut Program, where leaders, from any walk of life, can apply for an opportunity to go to space and experience the Overview Effect: the cognitive shift in awareness that occurs when a human being looks down on the Earth from space.

Through its citizen spaceflight program, leadership training, and collaborative efforts to educate the public, Space for Humanity is setting the stage to create the world we want, both here on Earth and throughout the cosmos. For more information, please visit www.spaceforhumanity.org

GEORGE WHITESIDES

GEORGE WHITESIDES

SPACE ADVISORY BOARD CHAIR

George T. Whitesides is the Chair of the Space Advisory Board, where he is responsible for bringing together aerospace leaders to advise the Virgin Galactic senior management team on the journey towards regular commercial spaceflight, developing the next generation vehicles and exploring new opportunities. Previously, George served as the Chief Space Officer of Virgin Galactic, spearheading the development of future technologies, including high speed, point-to-point travel and orbital flight, after stepping down as CEO in 2020.

George joined Virgin Galactic in 2010 as Chief Executive Officer. During George’s 10 years with the Company, he built the company from 30 people to a workforce of over 900, successfully guiding Virgin Galactic through its human space flight R&D and flight test program, culminating in two space flights. These historic flights saw the first humans launched into space from US soil since the retirement of the Space Shuttle, as well as the first woman to fly on a commercial space vehicle. George led the transition of operations from Mojave, California to Spaceport America, New Mexico, and oversaw the company’s successful public listing making it a multi-billion dollar company and creating the world’s first publicly traded human spaceflight venture.

Prior to Virgin Galactic, George served as Chief of Staff for NASA. Upon departure from the American space agency, he received the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award the agency confers.

George’s volunteer service includes Caltech’s Space Innovation Council, Princeton University’s Advisory Council for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and the Antelope Valley Economic Development & Growth Enterprise. He is a fellow of the UK Royal Aeronautical Society and an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

He previously served as Vice Chair of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, chair of the Reusable Launch Vehicle Working Group for the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, a member of the Board of Directors of Virgin Galactic, a member of the Board of Trustees of Princeton University, co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Space Technologies, and the Board of Virgin Unite USA. George has testified on American space policy before the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, and the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. An honors graduate of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, George later earned a master’s degree in geographic information systems and remote sensing from the University of Cambridge, and a Fulbright Scholarship to Tunisia. George is a licensed private pilot and certified parabolic flight coach.

He resides in California with his wife Loretta and two children.

CHRIS HADFIELD

CHRIS HADFIELD

SPACE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

Colonel Chris Hadfield is a heavily decorated astronaut, engineer, and test pilot who has commanded the International Space Station. Formerly NASA’s Director of Operations in Russia and veteran of three spaceflights, Hadfield’s many awards include the Order of Canada, the Meritorious Service Cross and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. Hadfield is a three-time NYT bestselling author, a renowned musician, an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo, chair of the board of the Open Lunar Foundation, and host of several internationally acclaimed television series. In addition, Hadfield leads the space stream at the Creative Destruction Lab, one of the world’s top tech incubators.

DR SANDRA MAGNUS

DR SANDRA MAGNUS

SPACE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

Dr. Sandra H. “Sandy” Magnus is the Principal at AstroPlanetview, LLC. Most recently she served as the Deputy Director of Engineering in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for the Undersecretary of Research and Engineering. In that role she served as the “Chief Engineer” for the Department of Defense establishing engineering policy, propagating best practices and working to connect the engineering community across the department.

Dr. Magnus is the former Executive Director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Prior to leading AIAA, she was a member of the NASA Astronaut Corps for 16 years. During her time at NASA she flew in space on the STS-112 shuttle mission in 2002, and on the final shuttle flight, STS-135, in 2011. In addition, she flew to the International Space Station on STS-126 in November 2008, served as flight engineer and science officer on Expedition 18, and returned home on STS-119 after four and a half months on board.

Following her assignment on Station, she served at NASA Headquarters in the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Her last duty at NASA, after STS-135, was as the deputy chief of the Astronaut Office.

While at NASA, Dr. Magnus worked extensively with the international community, including the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), as well as with Brazil on facility-type payloads. She also spent time in Russia developing and integrating operational products and procedures for the International Space Station.

Before joining NASA, Dr. Magnus worked for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company as a stealth engineer. While at McDonnell Douglas, she worked on internal R&D and on the Navy’s A-12 Attack Aircraft program.

Dr. Magnus has received numerous awards, including the NASA Space Flight Medal, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, and the 40 at 40 Award (given to former collegiate women athletes to recognize the impact of Title IX).

DAVID A. WHELAN

DAVID A. WHELAN

SPACE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

Dr. David A. Whelan is the SVP Chief-Scientist of Cubic Corporation. Dr. Whelan retired from Boeing in 2017, as the Vice President, Engineering (BDS) and Board of Directors for HRL Laboratories. Whelan served as Director of the Tactical Technology Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and began his career at Northrop as designer of the B-2 Stealth Bomber. Whelan is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Physical Society and IEEE. He earned his Ph.D. Physics from UCLA; He holds over 75 US patents.