27 June 2023 |
Christopher Huie, a Forest Lake Academy graduate (class of 2006), “is embarking on an extraordinary journey as the 19th Black astronaut in history,” according to a post on the school’s Alumni Association Facebook page. “He will be traveling as a mission specialist aboard Virgin Galactic’s Unity 25 spaceflight.” The post congratulates Huie, saying: “Christopher, you are reaching for the stars, and we are beyond proud!”
A Metro.co.uk article states that the mission specialist is the son of Jamaican immigrants and was raised by his mother, who traveled to watch the flight from Spaceport America in New Mexico. On the eve of his first trip beyond Earth’s atmosphere, he paid tribute to his mother’s sacrifices to open up opportunities he never thought possible.
Christopher, 35, spoke to Metro.co.uk from Virgin Galactic’s Gateway to Space Center, in the midst of training that has included crew flights in preparation for coping with the gravity loads of the journey.
He will wear U.S. and Jamaican insignia on the planned test trip, which will involve a mothership and a spacecraft, two crafts that he knows well as a senior engineer.
“For me it’s part of my personal origin story,” Christopher says. “My parents came to this country from Jamaica looking for more opportunities and to do more with their lives. Both my parents, especially my mum, sacrificed a lot so I could have opportunities she didn’t have growing up. I’ve had a lot more opportunities in my life than she’s had and that’s all culminating in the space flight experience. It’s not only for Jamaica, it’s for immigrants anywhere looking for opportunities to see what you can do with the life that you’ve been given. It’s a story of sacrifice and achievement, that’s what it represents for me.”
Christopher, known as “Chuie” to his teammates, earned a degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland and worked in the private sector before joining Virgin Galactic in 2016 as a cargo and simulation engineer. He is set to become the world’s 19th Black astronaut on a flight that he envisioned as a child playing LEGOS, but will now get to experience in his adult life.