Billionaire Branson set to fly to space aboard Virgin Galactic rocket plane

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Reuters 09 July, 2021 - 08:09am 20 views

When does Branson go into space?

Virgin Galactic will broadcast the flight of its founder, Richard Branson, as the billionaire soars into space on Sunday (July 11). Space.comHow to watch Virgin Galactic launch billionaire Richard Branson to space on Sunday

Photos: Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos Are Going to Space. Here's How Their Trips Will Differ.

The Wall Street Journal 09 July, 2021 - 08:00am

A look at the rockets and flights planned this month by Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.

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Virgin Galactic’s method for getting Richard Branson and other crew to space on Sunday starts with an airplane attached to a spacecraft. The twin-fuselage plane takes the spacecraft to an altitude of around 45,000 feet, where it is released.

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Upon its release, a pilot flying the spacecraft rockets the vessel into suborbital space. The craft that will launch in space July 11 is called the VSS Unity.

Virgin Galactic has said that people on board its spacecraft will be able to experience weightlessness for a few minutes and take in views once the craft is in space.

Virgin Galactic has said its trip on Sunday will be its first fully crewed flight. Mr. Branson will evaluate how future customers on Virgin Galactic trips experience visiting space, according to the company.

Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft returns to Earth via a 'feathering' system similar to a badminton shuttlecock. Eventually, the ship glides down to make a runway landing at the Spaceport America facility in New Mexico.

Blue Origin uses a reusable rocket to get to space. On July 20, founder Jeff Bezos is expected to be among the passengers who will board the company’s New Shepard vessel. The flight will be the company’s first to space with people.

'Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,' Mr. Bezos said in an Instagram post about the launch this month.

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The New Shepard, named after American astronaut Alan Shepard, will blast off from Blue Origin's facility in western Texas. The vessel includes a rocket and a capsule that has room for six people.

The capsule detaches from the rocket and travels above the Karman Line, an imaginary boundary roughly 62 miles above sea level. The rocket returns to Earth, followed by the capsule, which floats down beneath a parachute.

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Blue Origin says the New Shepard rocket uses drag brakes to reduce speeds by half during its descent. Its engine eventually slows the rocket down to 5 miles per hour for landing.

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Virgin Galactic's trip with Mr. Branson will be the 22nd flight for the VSS Unity. Blue Origin has said the New Shepard has flown 15 successful flights consecutively.

Branson Vs. Bezos: Billionaire Space Race Heats Up

Investor's Business Daily 09 July, 2021 - 08:00am

Richard Branson Races Jeff Bezos to Space as Covid-19 Hits Business Back on Earth

The Wall Street Journal 09 July, 2021 - 08:00am

Back on the ground, Mr. Branson’s business empire—straddling airlines, cruise ships, hotels and gyms—is trying to recover from the economic hit that many tourism and travel-focused businesses have suffered during the pandemic. Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc., the space-tourism company that will take Mr. Branson on its first fully crewed space flight this weekend, and his satellite-launch company, Virgin Orbit, have been bright spots. They have been his main focus for several years, according to people familiar with the matter.

The launch, assuming no weather or technical issues, is scheduled nine days before Mr. Bezos, the Amazon.com Inc. founder, is slated to be part of the first crew carried by his own space-tourism company, Blue Origin LLC. The rival launches highlight the competition that could unfold in the coming years between billionaires to carry fee-paying passengers to the edge of space. SpaceX, the rocket company led by Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk, plans this year to carry paying passengers higher still.

Mr. Branson, 70 years old, has for years brought global attention to his businesses on the back of publicity-grabbing stunts, establishing a risk-taking, flamboyant persona that is a key part of the brand. Mr. Branson’s participation in the launch is a marketing opportunity but also important for assuring future paying customers that the flight is safe, said Will Whitehorn, a former senior Virgin executive who has discussed the flight with Mr. Branson.

“Nobody will feel confident in his commercial space flights if he is unwilling to do it himself,” said Mr. Whitehorn, who is also the president of UKspace, a trade association for British space companies. Virgin Galactic says its tickets have sold for $250,000 each, and the company has collected $80 million in sales and deposits.

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