Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Flight Kick-Starts Space Tourism


The Wall Street Journal 09 July, 2021 - 07:00am 15 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

Billionaire Richard Branson is set to beat Jeff Bezos to space on Sunday. Their launches will differ in 3 big ways.

Yahoo News 09 July, 2021 - 09:14am

The billionaire will ride on the company's space plane, which won't reach orbit.

Branson is set to launch nine days before Jeff Bezos flies on his own company's rocket.

See more stories on Insider's business page.

The billionaire Richard Branson plans to rocket to the edge of space aboard his company's space plane this weekend.

The Virgin Galactic vehicle, called SpaceShipTwo, won't blast off from a launchpad. Instead, it gets carried aboard a double-fuselage mothership, which climbs to about 50,000 feet, or nearly 10 miles, then releases the space plane. The pilots then must fire the plane's rockets, point almost straight upward, and accelerate to more than three times the speed of sound toward the edge of space.

Sunday's flight is set to be the first time the vehicle carries a full crew. Standing in as passengers would be four Virgin Galactic employees, including Branson, who founded the company in 2004. The others are Beth Moses, its chief astronaut instructor; Colin Bennett, its lead operations engineer; and Sirisha Bandla, its vice president of government affairs and research operations.

They all aim to evaluate the passenger experience, since Virgin Galactic wants to start flying customers above Earth next year. More than 700 people have signed up for seats, including Tom Hanks, Justin Bieber, and Lady Gaga, the "Today" show reported.

Branson and his crew are scheduled to lift off from the company's facilities at Spaceport America, in New Mexico, at about 9 a.m. ET on Sunday. That's nine days before Jeff Bezos plans to launch on a similar flight aboard the vehicle built by his own company, Blue Origin.

Though Branson announced his plan weeks after Bezos shared his, the Virgin Galactic founder has insisted that this isn't a competition.

"I completely understand why the press would write that," he told The Washington Post last week. "It's just an incredible, wonderful coincidence that we're going up in the same month."

Still, the two flights are so close that they invite comparison. Both crews will skim the edge of space without reaching orbit. Both flights are the companies' first with a group of passengers. And both trips are designed for tourists.

But there are some key differences: Branson will ride a space plane, not a capsule launched by a rocket - and some say he won't even reach space.

Unlike Bezos, who's set to soar into space aboard a New Shepard rocket, Branson is taking a winged, piloted vehicle to the upper limits of Earth's atmosphere.

The SpaceShipTwo vehicle he's riding, called VSS Unity, requires two pilots and can hold up to six passengers. They'll climb aboard the space plane, attached to the bottom of the mothership - named VMS Eve, after Branson's mother - on Sunday morning.

Once the VSS Unity is about 55 miles above sea level, the pilots will cut the engines and allow the vehicle to drift. For about five minutes, the passengers will feel weightless. Through the space plane's 17 windows, they'll be able to see the Earth curving below them.

As gravity starts to pull it back down to Earth, the VSS Unity rotates its wings and tail booms upward to help it decelerate as it plunges through the atmosphere.

At about 50,000 feet - the same altitude where the mothership dropped it - the VSS Unity should rotate its wings and booms back into place to catch the wind beneath them and glide to a smooth runway landing.

Not everybody considers Branson's destination to be space.

"We wish him a great and safe flight, but they're not flying above the Kármán line and it's a very different experience," Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith told The New York Times after Branson's announcement last week.

The Kármán line is a hypothetical boundary between Earth and space, about 62 miles above sea level. That's where New Shepard is set to carry Bezos on July 20.

However, both NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration have awarded astronaut wings to pilots who flew past 50 miles, including Virgin Galactic pilots and Moses, the astronaut instructor on Sunday's flight; she's the only passenger the company has ever flown to 50 miles.

Still, experts don't agree on where space begins. The outermost layer of Earth's atmosphere extends about 600 miles from sea level, more than twice as high as the International Space Station.

Branson originally planned to ride SpaceShipTwo to these heights in 2014 or 2015. But Virgin Galactic had to delay those plans after its first version of the vehicle, called VSS Enterprise, broke apart above the Mojave Desert in October 2014, killing one pilot and injuring the other.

Since Virgin Galactic began testing VSS Unity in 2016, its flights have been successful. Pilots have flown the VSS Unity to the edge of space and back three times since December 2018. One of those flights carried a passenger: Moses.

Blue Origin's rocket, New Shepard, has never flown people. And it doesn't have pilots.

Virgin Galactic had planned to fly its first crew without Branson - he had been scheduled to go on the flight after this, but he announced the change last week.

"If you hurry there's always the possibility of cutting corners, but the people that are managing the flight have a pretty high incentive not to kill their boss," John Logsdon, the founder of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute and a former member of the NASA Advisory Council, previously told Insider.

He added: "It's kind of amusing, these billionaires entertaining themselves by being on the first flights of their vehicles."

Read the original article on Business Insider

In the past decade, the privatization and commercialization of space flight has become a reality, with companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Astra looking to turn the final frontier into a lucrative industry. According to Astra CEO Chris Kemp, the next billionaires will be "made in space."

The lucrative, high-stakes chase for space tourists will unfold on the fringes of space — 55 miles to 66 miles (88 kilometers to 106 kilometers) up, pitting Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson against the world’s richest man, Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos. Branson is due to take off Sunday from New Mexico, launching with two pilots and three other employees aboard a rocket plane carried aloft by a double-fuselage aircraft. Bezos departs nine days later from West Texas, blasting off in a fully automated capsule with three guests: his brother, an 82-year-old female aviation pioneer who’s waited six decades for a shot at space and the winner of a $28 million charity auction.

NASAOn June 25, astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet successfully completed an almost seven-hour EVA (extravehicular activity, or spacewalk) to install solar panels on the International Space Station. What does it take to don a spacesuit and venture out on such a technical and dangerous mission? Surprisingly, one of the main criteria (besides the years of astronaut training) is body size.EVA capabilities blossomed during the era of NASA’s space shuttle. Astronauts rode robotic arms, flo

AMC is facing its fourth consecutive day of declines as investors play the blame game.

A spacecraft around Mars has captured the clearest views yet of alien auroras on the red planet. The

"Zack doesn't want one more than I don't want one!" the MTV star says of her fiancé in a sneak peek

Rattlesnakes hate hot weather, experts say

“The Offer,” the Paramount Plus drama series that will go behind-the-scenes of the making of “The Godfather,” is adding over a dozen actors to its cast. Burn Gorman has been cast in the series regular role of Charles Bluhdorn, the volatile head of Gulf & Western, while 14 recurring guest stars have also joined the […]

Bollywood megastars Hrithik Roshan (“War”) and Deepika Padukone (“Padmaavat”) will star in “Fighter,” billed as India’s first aerial action franchise. The film is being produced by Viacom18 Studios in association with Marflix and will be directed by Siddharth Anand (“War”). Mamta Anand, Ramon Chibb and Anku Pande serve as producers. While the film is aimed […]

The short-term outlook for gold prices looks bullish, reasons Goldman Sachs. Here's why.

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin is building two engines for ULA's Vulcan rocket - and delays to the engines are causing tension, sources told Ars Technica.

Their classification was downgraded as the number in the wild has reached 1,800, officials said.

The vehicle is based on last year's science fiction inspired Definition CE 04 concept.

Disneyland Paris said it's in the process of making changes that are "needed for both the current environment and the future" of its resort.

“How beautiful it all is. I did not think it could be as beautiful as this,” the author said about the countryside where the Tuscan villa was built.

"This cover image celebrates pregnant and postpartum bodies as something beautiful, to be admired," pop star says

The architects of the Ribbon Hotel in Edinburgh say it's inspired by "coiled ribbon." Locals are reminded of a different kind of coiled shape.

On the July 7 episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Harry Hamlin shared his laidback thoughts on daughter Amelia Hamlin dating Scott Disick and their almost 20-year age difference.

A team of astronomers has detected the first-ever direct evidence for the existence of a "hypernova," which is a type of very energetic supernova. The post Astronomers Find Direct Evidence for Theorized Hypernova appeared first on Nerdist.

Virgin galactic: Billionaires’ space race: Branson to make space trip 9 days ahead of Bezos | In-depth - Times of India Videos

Times of India 09 July, 2021 - 04:30am

In the race to make commercial space flight viable, Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson has announced his travel to space on July 11. World’s richest man Bezos will also be on board his spacecraft with his brother on July 20th when it launches in West Texas. If all goes as expected, Branson, whose net worth is only 2.5 % of Bezos’ wealth, would beat the world’s richest man by 9 days.

Copyright © 2021 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service

Richard Branson Virgin Galactic

Business Stories

Top Stores