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Wellness and space with Keisha Schahaff.

Imagine winning a ticket to space and taking your child with you. Keisha Schahaff shares her incredible story from Astronaut to Wellness Coach.



Deep Space


Keisha Schahaff won a trip to space aboard a Virgin Galactic flight. She became the first woman from the Caribbean to go to space and she took her daughter with her. Find out how Keisha’s trip to space has transformed her life and influenced her career as a Wellness and Health Coach. She shared her incredible story with us.

You can connect with Keisha on LinkedIn and learn more about her work on her website.

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[MUSIC] Welcome to T-Minus Deep Space from N2K Networks.

I'm Maria Varmasas, host of the T-Minus Space Daily Podcast.

Deep Space includes extended interviews and bonus content for a deeper look into some of the topics that we cover on our daily program.

[MUSIC] Now imagine, if you will, entering a competition to win a flight to space.

And then against all odds, finding out that you won, personally, from Sir Richard Branson.

And that's exactly what happened to our guest, self-development and wellness coach and astronaut, Isha Shahoff.

She, along with her daughter, experienced the ride of their lifetimes on a virgin galactic suborbital flight from Spaceport America.

Here is Isha's amazing story.

[MUSIC] >> I'm so thrilled to share my story with you, my journey, because my journey is really one of transformation, one of self-healing and going to space, acquiring such a big dream.

So it really all started when I was a kid.

My grandfather used to tell me stories.

I can remember, my memory is so great because I can go as far back as two years old, when my granddad would tell me stories about the first astronaut that landed on the moon, Neil Armstrong.

But it wasn't just him, it was a bunch of them.

So when he told me that, in my little young mind, I'm like, I wanna be able to accomplish something like that too.

And a story like that just broadened me and made me feel like I can accomplish that as well one day.

But then as you're growing up, I mean, reality of life really hits you.

I wasn't very good when it came to learning, even if I was very enthusiastic about sciences and all of that.

Because of ADHD, dyslexia, and during that time when I was younger, they didn't really have too much methods of how to help you when you had these types of things, right?

So basically you're thrown to the back of the class and you feel, they don't feel worthy, you don't feel like you can accomplish this.

But I had a very strong visual, so I ended up becoming going more on the other side of business and entrepreneurship and that kind of stuff.

So my first job was actually as a flight attendant.

And I was very excited with that job because it brought me closer to the stars.

Until one day a passenger that knew me said to me, "Why are you settling being a flight attendant?

That job is not really the best job."

And that just burst everything for me.

So that's where now I started going back into searching and all of that.

Still wanting to get the space.

Don't see how I'm going to make that happen because being a woman and also where I'm located and from Antigua, Barbuda, and it's just a small little island in the Caribbean and no one here talks about that.

So I focus now on what was a reality for me, which was being a mother because I became a young mother when I was 19 years old, just thrown into that.

Still a kid myself, got found love and all of that.

Had my second daughter.

My second daughter was my star child.

That's the one that went with me.

So when she got older now, she got to the age of 16 and was right in the heart of COVID.

I said to her, "You need to go to university.

I know that the world looks weird right now, but you need to focus on you."

And I did that because of my journey, what I'd been through.

I had goals and dreams and it didn't happen for me.

I was like, "My children are going to get their dreams."


So being this mommy bear now, I made sure I did whatever was possible to get her to university.

And she chose to go to university in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Imagine that you're from warm sunny Antigua and Barbuda where everybody wants to go to.

She wants to go to where it's so cold, freezing.

I've been to Aberdeen.

It is quite cold.

It's so cold.

It hurts your bones.

So at that time, flights were so restricted in Antigua.

We needed to get her to Barbada so that she could get her visas and all of that.

Sort it out that she can study in a foreign country.

So there was no flights, no flights.

The only flight that was available and usually a flight from Antigua to Barbada is one hour.

We had to do a weird drastic U-turn kind of flight.

So the only flight available was on Virgin Atlantic, going from Antigua all the way to London, which is eight hours, sitting on the ground for eight hours, waiting for the next flight to take us another eight hours to Barbada.

That was epic.

But the universe had a plan.

It had a big plan.

So all this time that I was working on myself, doing myself healing and all of that, I didn't realize I was clearing away blockages that was holding me back from my destiny.

So working on myself really helped because being on this flight now, I'm looking at my daughter, she's just all cozy watching the movie.

And I started praying to the universe.

I said, I've been doing this work on myself.

I've been helping my children.

I did everything I could for them.

Can you please take me to space?

I'm not joking.

Right after that prayer, an ad just popped up and Richard Branson was on this ad.

He said, do you want to go to space?

And I was like, I'm freaking kidding me.

Is this really from the universe?

And I was like, you know what?

I never gambled in my life because it was a fundraiser to raise funds for non-profits, space of humanity that was sending people to space and all of that.

And I said, if this is from the universe and it's meant to be, it will happen.

So I decided to say yes to myself and fill out the forms and everything and submitted it.

And then I forgot about it.

I just let it go because I said, I didn't want to put emotions in it and then get all anxiety and whatever.

So I just left it alone.

I said, if it's for me, it will happen.

Guess what?

Two months later, Richard Branson showed up at my house, found my house, don't know how he did it, came himself with his team of people to say, surprise, you won.

You're going to space.

It's amazing that sometimes in life, things like that actually happen.

It's unbelievable, but it happened.

My goodness.

And then what made it even better, finding out that my young daughter also wanted to go to space.

I'm like, this is the best dream ever.

I get to go to space with my child.


So that's definitely what happened.

And she studied, coincidentally, she studied physics and philosophy.

So she has a journey now that she can continue and make this into a career.

We were the first tourist astronauts on Virgin Galactic, but now she can continue it and make it a profession for herself.

And the journey that I decided to choose was to merge space and wellness because I was able to acquire a dream because I cleared the blockages by doing the work on myself.

So now I'm motivating other mothers mid-age, in their 40s and upwards, that you can acquire your dream just that working on yourselves.

And I feel like this at 46, it's like such a tender age because you're going through the hormones, the changes in your body.

Everything is amplified.

And I don't feel like we get enough care.

I don't feel like people show us enough empathy.

They just figured that we shouldn't have it all worked out.

So I'm just very moved for this mission now, moving forward and seeing where this takes me and just open up to, you know, whoever that can give me the guidance as well and join me in looking this happen too.

I would love to know what the experience was like.

How does one even share such a unique experience?

But what can you tell me about what that was like?


OK, let's start with the training.

The training was really professional.

I mean, even if you're not going to become a professional astronaut, it made you feel like you're really a part of something so big.

So the way that they really explained everything about the craft and the setting and all of that, and then going through the whole going into the craft itself and doing the trainings in there, it was really beautiful.

It was so saturated and it just made me feel so much safer as well.

Knowing that I'm going into such a technology that really just takes you off from a runway and you come back in and you land on a runway as well.

So it's almost like a commercial flight, but still you're going out into space.

So after this particular training, got all suited up and everything going on this craft with myself, my daughter.

We also had another passenger with us.

He was a paid passenger, though.

We won all tickets with he paid, John Goodwin.

He was a lovely guy from the UK and he was with us.

And it's the bond that we formulated as a team with the three of us was just beautiful.

And then also the entire Virgin Galactic crew as well.

It was really amazing.

So now we're we're taking off from the runway and we're making it up to about 50,000 feet, 45 to 50,000 feet going around like zigzag kind of the mothership is carrying us because it's two two planes.

The mothership, which is a carrier plane and then the rocket ship that we were in.

So it took us up to about 50,000 feet and then released us into mid air like that.

And then this is where the rocket motor ignited.

And that was the blast of our life.

We went from 50,000 feet all the way up to 290,000 feet, which was 55 miles off our planet.

That was wow, you just felt your face going back and beautiful facelift.

And you just feel like, OK, I'm leaving everything behind.

But in that one minute that we took from going that distance, I saw my entire life flashed before me and I made peace with my life.

So it felt like it was a death and a rebirth.

That's kind of what it felt like for me.

And then getting out there such a reward by seeing the darkness of the sky, the bass of the space, seeing.

Like the planet that was just beautiful, this big blue orb just floating there in this darkness.

And it was just beautiful because I could not I could not imagine any thoughts that could come to my mind.

I didn't even have any words for what was going on.

All I felt was peace and connection.

At that moment, I realized there's a bigger energy than us out there.

Because I always feel a seeker trying to understand what's our purpose here, why we're here, what's all of this for.

But all of that cleared away once I got up there and I saw a planet.

It is all supposed to be the way it's happening right here right now.

There's nothing to worry about.

I felt like I faced everything that I needed to face.

And I was just looking back on a beautiful planet and it just changed me forever.

I felt a connection of love, a connection of unity, a connection of worth.

Like I feel worthy now.

I don't feel like weird in myself like the way I used to feel before.

I feel confident and I feel like my purpose now is to share my story and help other people as well.

Because I've been through such a journey and seeing our planet and feeling everything.

I felt such a connection to my daughter as well, to John, to the crew that took us up there.

This gratitude and it's just a beautiful energy.

And I came back on this planet with that and I just felt like I was still in this dream.

Like part of me was still up there, part of me was still on the planet.

And another part of me came back to the planet so it felt like I got split in three places.

It's just weird.

We'll be right back after this quick break.

I'm really feeling what you're saying.

I'm very moved by it.

Yeah, yeah, with that you have to just soak it in.

It's just, it's just beautiful.

It's so striking to hear you also mentioned like the death and rebirth and also your journey.

Because I think especially when it comes to things when people talk about space in general, there's often sort of like a stereotype of a person who's like, you know, they're just, they went directly there on a journey and it's like for most of us, life is not that way.

For most of us, life takes us on these twists and turns and we have, you know, it's just, your story is so real and so human and so relatable for me.

And, you know, you are in space with your child, with your daughter as a mom.

I think when we heard when my producer and I heard your story, we're both moms and we were just going, what is that like as a mom to be in space with your daughter?


To be honest, it brought, it brought me so much joy, but also I was worried too, because I knew it was my dream and I was, I was ready for whatever the risk were to acquire my dream.

But when she wanted to come, I'm like, wow.

She had to make that decision for herself and luckily it took two years and she was 18 years old.

So she was able to make that decision for herself.

And I said to her at any time, you can back out, you don't have to do this.

And I just wanted her to know that and I wanted her to know she doesn't or anybody, anything and it's okay.

And the night before going to the space flight, she almost backed out.

But then she said, no, I'm going to do this.

And I said, you're sure?

She said, yes, I'm going to do this.

I said, okay.

And then when we actually did it, I kept looking at her, making sure she's okay.

She also had a mirror on her hand because she was sitting in the seat in front of me.

I gave her that seat so that she can have that, you know, moms we always want was better for our kids anyway.

So I would still be in a mom even if I was acquiring my dream.

And so she would raise her hand and have the mirror so she can look back at me.

And I just made sure that I was sending her this energy that she could feel relaxed and everything in the experience.

And it was just beautiful.

I know I'm going to cry.

I'm sorry.

I'm actually crying.

It was just so beautiful.

And then the moment we got up there, the first thing I did, I think in the video you saw it too before taking in the view, I looked at her to make sure she was okay again.

We're floating in zero gravity and I look at her, made sure she's okay.

And you know, she's not looking at me now.

She's just doing her thing.

And then it brought me back to when she was so little, just a little baby and the curiosity she had and the love for life and adventure.

And I just saw that innocence in her face and I felt so touched.

And then I looked out the window and just enjoyed the view.

I was like, okay, let me get this in now.

I can see she's enjoying it.

Let me know from me.

So it was such an unselfish, pure love moment that was just wonderful.

I have never been so moved.

I'm speaking to someone.

You are really moving.

I'm sorry.

I apologize.

I'm like, no, no, no.

I just, it's so, I think every mother can really relate to that feeling of looking at your child and remembering when they were little.

But in such a moment of wonder, and then I'm so glad you took that time also for yourself to enjoy the view.

Man, mothering in space, my goodness.

Oh my goodness gracious.

It's beautiful because I feel like more than half my life I've been a mother for 27 years.

I've been a mother because I've been a mother when I was 19 years old.

I had my daughter and I just wanted a moment that I could also have my dream and I got that dream and still got to be a mother at the same time.

So that was beautiful.

These identities are all a part of us.

We carry them with us even to space.

Your story is so touching.

I just, I'm very moved by it.

Also being able to represent Antigua, you know, representing the Caribbean.

What has that meant to you, especially since you've come back?

I mean, tell me about that.

So it was also very moving for me knowing that my island, my nation was also supporting me with this.

So there was a watch party that was orchestrated here, which I was grateful for because I could not finance my mother and my big, my older daughter to come with me to see this at Spaceports America.

It was just way too expensive that I could afford.

So the best thing that happened was Antigua and Barbuda hosted a watch party and my mother and my daughter were VIP members there that they could come forth and sit up for it and watch the whole thing that was being shown live.

And even better than that, Mr.

Richard Branson actually went to Antigua to watch this instead of going to Spaceports America where it's happening there.

He came to Antigua so he could be with my family and watch me go to space.

So that was, it was, and I didn't know about it.

So when I got back and someone showed me the video of how much hundreds of thousands of people that were in the stadium watching this, I started to cry.

I couldn't believe it.

And then on top of that, we had big media and all of that, like all the top medias were there at Spaceports to welcome us.

And there was a press conference and Antigua flag was there.

It was so supporting because my biggest fear was public speaking.

Having to, having to, right, because it's like you can't make a mistake.

You're so great at it though.

You don't need to worry about that at all.

Thank you.

Thank you.

So I don't know why I get so much anxiety with that.

I always, I'm always afraid I'm going to say the wrong thing.

I'm not going to be understood, you know, like, and I think that comes back from failing when I was a kid in school with these limitations.

And that's what I worked on with myself as a coach to get myself out of that.

So I can be here and show up and do this work now because I would not have done it 10 years ago.

I would have been too scared.

So everything happened in the right time.

So Antigua and Bob Yudder was really on my side.

And when I got back to Antigua, it was beautiful because it was like a celebrity coming back to the island and they said, yes, you are a celebrity.

I'm like, what does that mean?

The rest of your life, this is the rest of your life.

You're on Wikipedia.

It's, oh my gosh.

So that was like, what am I supposed to do?

And then it was beautiful because it's like, I got that whole experience, VIP experience coming back into the island.

Imagine they made everyone on the plane sit down and let me and my daughter leave the plane first.

I'm like, who does that?

I was like, So now it's just beautiful to see people coming to the island to meet me and Antigua.

They have a beautiful display in the museum right now.

I was like, they said, you're making history.

So now you're in the new, I'm like, oh my gosh, I can't believe that.

So I'm like, okay, say people are going to come to Antigua, come for space and wellness.

Come for space and wellness from a wellness coach who went to space.

And we have talked about so much, but I do want to talk about that also because when I was prepping for this interview, I was thinking to myself, how amazing would it be to have a wellness coach who has been to space and how would that inform your work?

I mean, that is an extremely unique experience.

So I'm so curious about that.

Yes, and that is something that I'm working on right now because I put together a master program, a master class just for that because what is above is also within.

So there's space all around us, yeah, but there's also space inside of us.

How can we navigate inside of ourselves to clear and explore who we are?

I mean, we want to see what's out there, but look, start looking inside and see what's inside of us that we can clear out.

And that's where I come in as a coach to help to clear these obstacles from within us and to open up to that peace that we naturally are because that peace I felt that was in space, it was a natural energy that was there.

And I learned that that energy is who we are as well because we're not separated from anything.

Even if we think we are, we're not.

We're part of it all.

And when we saw that beautiful planet, it looked like an animal, like a living being just floating there.

It's being balled and it kind of bring fire orb around it, which is the atmosphere.

And I could see that's how it was breathing.

So we're part of everything.

We're part of all of it.

So that's what my program is going to be all about, exploring who you are, what your dreams are, how many times we push our dreams inside of drawers and we forget about them.

So now I'm inviting people to go back into that drawer, open up your dream and let's make it happen.

So I know a lot of people speak about our planet and we must protect our planet and take care of our planet to make this planet a better place.

But I think that we are the planet.

We have to start with ourselves.

So we have to start going into ourselves, navigating ourselves, clearing out the blockages from in ourselves, making ourselves the best version of ourselves.

When we can do that, then we're building better communities and it keeps expanding more and more and a better planet as well.

So in order to save the planet, make the planet better, we have to start working on ourselves.

So that's the most important thing I feel right now in this system, in this world.

We have to start working on ourselves.

That is so wise.

Thank you so much, Kisha.

It's been a joy and an honor and a pleasure to speak with you today.

Thank you so much.

That's it for T-Mina's Deep Space for February 24th, 2024.

We'd love to know what you think of this podcast.

You can email us at space@ntuk.com or submit the survey in the show notes.

Your feedback ensures that we deliver the information that keeps you a step ahead in the rapidly changing space industry.

This episode was produced by Alice Karuth, mixing by Elliot Peltzman and Trey Hester, with original music and sound design by Elliot Peltzman.

Our executive producer is Jen Iben.

Our VP is Brandon Karp, and I'm Maria Varmazes.

Thanks for listening.

We'll see you next time.

[Music] [Music] # And today, thank you.

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