Richard Branson is taking a big risk going to space

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CNN 07 July, 2021 - 04:53pm 54 views

Who is going into space with Jeff Bezos?

Richard Branson Will Beat Jeff Bezos To Outer Space : NPR. Richard Branson Will Beat Jeff Bezos To Outer Space Branson will be on board a July 11 flight of Virgin Galactic's rocket ship, nine days before Bezos launches. But Bezos will have a record-setting female astronaut along for the ride: Wally Funk, 82. NPRRichard Branson Will Beat Jeff Bezos To Outer Space

Who is sirisha bandla?

Sirisha Bandla who is part of six space travellers aboard 'VSS Unity' of Virgin Galactic will become the second India-born woman to fly into space after Kalpana Chawla. According to a report by the news agency, ANI Sirisha Bandla was born in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur district was brought up in Houston. LivemintSirisha Bandla: India-born woman who is part of Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic flight

Read full article at CNN

Our unequal world does not need a billionaire space race. I’d send Bezos & Branson on a one-way ticket to the Moon

RT 07 July, 2021 - 03:27pm

Dr Lisa McKenzie is a working-class academic. She grew up in a coal-mining town in Nottinghamshire and became politicized through the 1984 miners’ strike with her family. At 31, she went to the University of Nottingham and did an undergraduate degree in sociology. Dr McKenzie lectures in sociology at the University of Durham and is the author of ‘Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain.’ She’s a political activist, writer and thinker. Follow her on Twitter @redrumlisa.

Now Branson has a new toy, Virgin Galactic, and last week he was given a licence to undertake a crewed test flight to space, taking off from the company’s spaceport in New Mexico, with the focus of the flight “evaluating… seat comfort, the weightless experience and the views of Earth” in the space cabin as part of the “private astronaut experience.”  Branson himself will be on board.

Yes, you’re right. As someone who has been crushed into cattle-like trains trying to get to work in the morning, I am indeed rolling my eyes at the prospect. But Branson’s adventure highlights a flurry of activity that is taking place in the realm of space tourism, as companies with what the press generously describes as ‘eccentric billionaire entrepreneurs’ at the helm – such as Branson, Bezos and Elon Musk – seek to bring space travel to ‘the people’. Or at least ‘their people’. 

Branson has taken great delight in announcing that his new space venture is scheduled to take off on July 11, beating rival Bezos into sub-orbital space by nine days. His company currently has around 600 reservations for future trips, at $250,000 (£175,000) a ticket. 

In 1890, when William Morris published his utopian book set in the future ‘News From Nowhere’, he presented a picture of socialism, artisanal respect for craftsmanship, and turning back time on environmentally damaging technology. And yet here we are in 2021, and our current ‘science fiction’ is quite the opposite – billionaires making money from damaging the world and the environment, and people playing Star Wars simply because they can, seemingly with no one holding them to account. Why is no one questioning how much private property and private wealth is too much? In a world that is so unequal, isn’t it wrong that this cannot be challenged, no matter how damaging and toxic it is to the majority?

I am not a philistine. I understand that there are legitimate reasons for researchers to know what happens up in space. It is, I believe, the human condition to want to know what appears unknowable, to want to see what you are told you can only imagine. As a working-class child growing up in a Nottinghamshire mining community, I didn’t see London or ride a train until I was 16. But I had long dreamed of doing both. 

I am also aware space travel can help us here on Earth. For example, scientists from the University of Nottingham and the University of Exeter are involved in a project that recently saw thousands of tiny worms launched into space to help us understand more about muscle loss and how to prevent it. Spaceflight is an extreme environment that is regarded as an excellent model to enhance the understanding of ageing, inactivity and certain clinical conditions on different body systems. Studying changes in muscle that occur with spaceflight could lead to more effective therapies and new treatments for age-associated muscle loss and many negative changes to the body, with astronauts losing up to 40% of their muscle after six months in space. 

And yet we have reached a stage where this costly privilege of entering such an extreme environment has become a deeply extravagant show of wealth that will be used so the richest people in the world can have a brief ‘out of this world’ experience.

Make no mistake, either: this is only just the beginning. These entrepreneurs are tantamount to the colonialists of old, always looking for new land and new markets to expand into. The difference, though, is that this isn’t a problem for a specific part of the world, whether it be America, or Britain, or Europe or Africa – it is a global problem.

Because, let us be honest – the evidence throughout human history is stark. When entrepreneurs who have a thirst to succeed seek to open new markets, their goals are seldom hampered by such things as ethics. And this is why governments and professional bodies across the world should be looking closely at what is going on and asking in whose interest this billionaire space race really is. ‘Just because you can, should you?’ is the question that I would hope is being asked in the corridors of power.

And even if our governments and so-called leaders are turning a blind eye to it all, it doesn’t mean the rest of us mere mortals should. In our horribly impoverished, unequal world it’s a scandalous use of money best summed by Gil Scott Heron poet, musician, and sociologist in his 1970 song ‘Whitey On The Moon’. ‘A rat done bit my sister Nell and whitey’s on the moon. I can’t pay my doctor bills, but whitey’s on the moon.’ More than 50 years later, the sentiment that inspired these lyrics seems as relevant as ever. 

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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Richard Branson says he isn't racing Jeff Bezos into space with Virgin Galactic launch

Space.com 07 July, 2021 - 03:27pm

Branson's SpaceShipTwo will launch on July 11. Bezos' Blue Origin flight is July 20.

Branson is slated to go into orbit as soon as July 11 aboard Virgin Galactic's space plane VSS Unity for the company's next suborbital flight, the most high-profile launch since its founding in 2004. 

That launch date gives plenty of time to squeak ahead of Blue Origin's first crewed launch of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle, carrying Bezos — who recently resigned as Amazon's CEO to focus on Blue Origin, the space venture he founded in 2000.

The situation sounds like a spaceborne version of the fictional CEO conflict that dominated the first season of the hit HBO television show "Silicon Valley," but Branson denied as such in the interview.

Related: Virgin Galactic unveils pilot spacesuits for space tourist flights (photos)

"I know nobody will believe me when I say it, but honestly, there isn't [competition]," Branson said on the Today Show episode, which aired Tuesday (July 6). The 70-year-old admitted he couldn't wait for the opportunity, given he had dreamed of spaceflight since the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. (Blue Origin's flight with Bezos is scheduled to launch on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.)

Branson said there is plenty of room for multiple space companies to fly tourists into space. That said, seat prices remain sky-high for participation and it remains largely open to the super-rich. The forthcoming Inspiration4 flight aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon sought other types of passengers for its mission led by billionaire Jared Isaacman, including two contest winners and the first astronaut set to fly with a prosthetic device, but it remains an exception in the history of space tourism.

An estimated 750 people have signed on for Virgin Galactic flights, some paying $250,000 apiece for the opportunity. Blue Origin has not released normal seat prices for its flight, but the high bid for a lucky contestant to gain a seat with Bezos ended up running at $28 million

The Bezos and Branson flights will each have other crew members aboard. Branson's fellow passengers will include Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic's chief astronaut instructor, Colin Bennett, Virgin Galactic lead operations engineer and Sirisha Bandla, the vice president of government affairs and research operations at the company. VSS Unity will be piloted by Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, with C.J. Sturckow and Kelly Latimer piloting the carrier aircraft VMS Eve.

Bezos invited 82-year-old female aviator Wally Funk, one of the "Mercury 13" who unsuccessfully sought female astronaut qualification with NASA in the 1960s, on the first crewed launch — which she gleefully accepted on camera. Should Funk succeed, she'll be the oldest person ever to reach space, after John Glenn did so at age 77. The other passengers will be Bezos' brother Mark, and the as-yet-unnamed auction winner. 

Regardless of who goes first, Bezos is slated to fly higher than Branson. Historically, Virgin Galactic spacecraft tend to fall a few miles short of the height many people use to demarcate space, at 62 miles (100 kilometers). Meanwhile, a definition from the Federal Aviation Administration says anything above 50 miles (80 km) is space, and Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is slated to go at least that high with Branson on board.

While Bezos has remained silent so far about Branson's attempt to go to space first, years ago Bezos touted New Shepard as better than Virgin Galactic due to his company's ability to go over the 62-mile mark, also known as the Kármán Line. 

"We've always had as our mission that we wanted to fly above the Kármán Line, because we didn't want there to be any asterisks next to your name about whether you're an astronaut or not," Bezos said in 2019. "That's something they're going to have to address, in my opinion."

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Billionaire Richard Branson is going to space. How risky is that?

msnNOW 07 July, 2021 - 03:27pm

Updated 10:19 AM ET, Wed July 7, 2021

Take a look at the flight path our SpaceShipTwo will take during our fifth supersonic powered test flight. The flight window opens again tomorrow. More info on our flight test program can be found here https://t.co/FPuuC0NHoM pic.twitter.com/riEiledjo6

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