An 18-year-old Aberdeen University student and her mother will travel to space later this week after a winning a place on Virgin Galactic's first commercial flight in a prize draw.

Anastatia Mayers and her mum Keisha Schahaff will be the first mother and daughter to go to space.

They will also be the first people from the Caribbean to make the journey.

Keisha was travelling to the UK to sort out her daughter's visa when she entered the competition.

She was on a Virgin Atlantic flight from Antigua to London when suddenly an advert popped up.

"I filled out this sweepstake and then suddenly months later I'm getting correspondences saying that you're a top 20 finalist, then a top five finalist, to becoming a winner," she says.

"Suddenly, who's walking into my yard? Richard Branson. The whole team just swarmed into my house saying 'you're the winner, you're going to space'."

Top of climbImage source, Virgin GalacticImage caption, The Galactic 01 flight reached a height of 279,00ft (85km) in June

Anastatia says it was her decision to travel from the Caribbean to study in Scotland that led to the opportunity to go space.

"Had I not randomly chosen Aberdeen University and had we not had to take a massive detour to get my visa – we wouldn't be going to space," she says.

"I feel like a lot of things had to happen at very specific moments for us to end up here."

The second-year philosophy and physics student says coming to study in Scotland was one of the biggest decisions of her life but it has "led to magnificent things happening".

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The pair will take off from New Mexico on Thursday.

The mission, named Galactic 02 is the second commercial spaceflight conducted by the American space company, and the first with paying customers onboard.

The advertised price for a ride on the rocket plane has been as high as $450,000 (£350,000).

The Galactic 01 mission took place in June. It reached an altitude of 279,000ft (85km). It is thought the second mission will attempt the same path.

'Over the moon'

Anastatia, who will be the second youngest person to go to space, says she hopes she can use the experience to inspire others.

"That would be very important to me, both in Scotland and Antigua and anywhere else I have any ties," she says.

"I do hope that people are watching and supporting.

"My intention is to just break any barriers that we set for ourselves or that the world sets for us.

"I want people to know that it doesn't matter where you come from, who you are – anything – your dream is your dream and you can make that happen, despite what anyone else says."

Keisha adds: "For me and my daughter together, it's more than a dream come true.

"This is my kid, I love her with all my heart, and to know that we both share the same goal, the same dream, that is super over the moon."

The pair will be joined former Team GB Olympian Jon Goodwin from Newcastle. He will become the second person with Parkinson's to go to space as well as the first Olympian.

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