Sonja Rohde is enjoying the thrill of anticipation. If everything goes to plan, her childhood dream will become reality and within the next year she will be the first German woman flying into space, when Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo will lift off from the world’s first private space port in New Mexico.

What is the attraction of space?
Even as a child I dreamed about travelling to the stars. It began when my Grandmother gave me a children’s encyclopedia when I was five years old. Space Travel and Dinosaurs were my favorite pages. I started dreaming about a journey to the stars. I was instantly fascinated by the blackness of space, the huge rockets and the astronauts in their suits. My father had to stick glowing stars on to my bedroom ceiling so I could look at them at night. This fascination has never ended. I was thrilled by the TV show “Space Night”, where pictures from space were broadcasted. At some point I heard that from the year 2050 onwards, people from the public would be able to travel into space, so I never gave up the dream that one day I could go on such a journey – even if it were as a toothless granny.

How did you meet Richard Branson?
I met Richard Branson on a Safari in Africa. During a mutual dinner the conversation turned to VirginGalactic, his private spaceline . I felt as if I was struck by lightning, realizing my childhood dream would have a chance of coming true. This encounter must have been fate. I instantly expressed my absolute desire to participate in the flight. This was a spontaneous decision that came straight from my heart.

Do you have to train a lot?
I have to take part in regular trainings that are organized by Virgin Galactic. For example, I had to undergo a zero gravity training at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, which was a unique experience. Floating through the room as light as a feather is indescribable. After that I had centrifuge training with NASTAR, where a rocket launch is simulated and the body is exposed to a force six times as strong as gravity. Beyond that, I had to pass various medical tests in order to prove that my body is fit enough for the trip into space.

What will the trip itself be like?
The carrier White Knight will take us to an altitude of 15 kilometres. There the Spaceship will be uncoupled and be in free fall for some seconds, then the rocket engine is ignited, breaks through the sonic barrier within eight seconds and shoots vertically 100 kilometres further into space – with almost four times the speed of sound (approx. 4,200 kilometres per hour). There will be eight of us: Two pilots and six passengers. And we will experience everything that belongs to a proper space adventure: Zero gravity, the view of a thousand miles in every direction, where you can see the sun, moon, earth and stars all at the same time. I will feel the force of the rockets in my body, see the sky go by and watch it change from light to dark blue then to purple and finally black – in broad daylight. And then there will be this breathtaking silence. Our helmets will be equipped with cameras that film everything we look at. It is very likely that there will be a sound broadcast that people can follow on earth.

It must be wonderful to have the chance to fulfill one’s dream.
Yes, it is. But it should also encourage other people. Every dream can come true, even in moments where you least expect it. This is, was makes live interesting: Everything can happen.