Why is Branson going to space?
Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic crew go to the edge of space and back. In 2004, British billionaire Richard Branson proclaimed he would fly into space on his company's spaceship in just three years to kick off what he hoped would become a routine travel experience, drinks and all. Los Angeles TimesBranson, Virgin Galactic crew go to edge of space and back
Where is Virgin Galactic launching from?
Virgin Galactic's flights launch from Spaceport America, along a desolate stretch of desert in New Mexico. The company's SpaceShipTwo Unity craft is designed to take off on a conventional runway while attached to the underbelly of a carrier ship known as WhiteKnightTwo. NBC NewsVirgin Galactic's rocket reaches edge of space with Richard Branson on board
How far did Branson go into space?
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Unity spaceplane reached the edge of space, flying to an altitude of more than 50 miles. The vehicle is carrying Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson and three employees and has two pilots at the controls. The Washington PostRichard Branson and his Virgin Galactic crew are safely back from space, ushering in a new era
Who are the astronauts on Virgin Galactic?
The pilots are David Mackay and Michael Masucci. In addition to Mr. Branson, three Virgin Galactic employees joined the flight to evaluate how the experience will be for future paying customers. The New York TimesHighlights From Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Flight
Updated 3:27 PM ET, Sun July 11, 2021
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12 July, 2021 - 09:00am
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Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic team prepare for the crew's first spaceflight
Richard Branson reached space on a test flight for Virgin Galactic before gliding back to earth and touching down safely Sunday, the latest salvo in the burgeoning space tourism business led by high-profile billionaires.
The Virgin Group founder launched Sunday with three company employees, flying 53 miles above the earth in a final test mission before kicking off commercial space flights next year. Branson – who earned his pilot’s license – tested the astronaut cabin experience.
A photo released by the company showed Branson and the three others in zero gravity.
After landing, Branson tweeted that going to space was "more magical than I ever imagined."
Branson tweeted a photo of him with SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk Sunday morning, saying he is "feeling good, feeling excited, feeling ready."
"Big day ahead," Branson wrote. "Great to start the morning with a friend."
Crowds greeted Branson as he arrived for the launch. He waved, smiled and flashed a thumbs up in return.
The company reported that overnight weather prevented crews from starting flight preparations and delayed liftoff by 90 minutes.
"The future of space tourism in New Mexico is getting one step closer!" Virgin Galactic tweeted Saturday.
They rode in SpaceShipTwo – Virgin's craft designed for tourism – to reach suborbital space. The vessel was built by Virgin Galactic's sister company, The Spaceship Company, according to Space.
SpaceShipTwo already set records by flying beyond the U.S. Air Force's defined boundary of space in 2018, reaching an altitude of 51.4 miles.
Elon Musk offered his best wishes and "Godspeed!" for the Virgin Galactic flight.
Rival tech billionaire Jeff Bezos, who has raced with Branson to be the first into space with his Blue Origin spaceflights, sent his own well-wish Saturday ahead of Unity 22.
Musician Khalid was expected to perform his single "New Normal" at Spaceport America after the landing.
12 July, 2021 - 09:00am
12 July, 2021 - 07:20am
Space, as Star Trek continues to inform us, is indeed the final frontier. Back when the show first aired (and for several seasons and versions after), the idea of space colonies, a recurring theme, was completely in the realm of science fiction. Now, it is more a question of when, rather than if, although the when is at least several decades in the future. Time doesn’t just work differently in space, it works differently when it comes to anything concerning space. On Sunday, nearly two decades after a trio of moneyed entrepreneurs (independently and separately) promised the democratisation of space, the first of them delivered it.
From the rather aptly named Truth or Consequences, a city in New Mexico, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic launched a plane carrying its VSS Unity spacecraft, which was then launched for a 15-minute flight to the edge of space. There were two pilots, Mr Branson, and three other passengers. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, this meant that for some time, space was the most crowded it has been, counting those aboard the International Space Station, and the Chinese Taikonauts in orbit in that country’s own Tianhe space station – and it will get even more so.
Sure, the Virgin spaceflight was just to the edge of space, just as those later this year by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s Space X will be, but by next year, there are expectations that commercial space tourism will be a reality, with people paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a few minutes of weightlessness and a glimpse of the blue orb from out there.
The space tourism industry is expected to be worth $3 billion by 2030, according to a 2019 UBS report, but the larger ramifications of the democratisation of space, the fact that just about anyone with the resources can take a trip to space, and the entry of the private sector into an area hitherto dominated by governments will become clear over time. 2021 may mark an important milestone in humankind’s effort to explore space, and then colonise it.
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12 July, 2021 - 03:13am
The sun rose on the building's futuristic glass facade, located in a region that boasts 340 days of good weather per year.
A small crowd of invited guests, baking under the hot sun, cheered as the space crew climbed into a black SUV and headed for the rocket, which sat at the end of a 3.6 kilometer (2.2 miles) track. On board were Branson, two pilots and three other Virgin Galactic employees.
Also on hand, though unseen by the cameras, was SpaceX founder Elon Musk, another billionaire with galactic aspirations.
A TikTok star, a celebrity television presenter and a Canadian astronaut were among those poised, ready to commentate on the momentous event.
After the launch, the huge carrier plane climbed through the air for about 50 minutes. The guests took refuge under a white tent, eating passed hors d'oeuvres while children ran about.
But they soon rushed back out again to witness the main event: the spaceship released from the plane, igniting its engine for a supersonic ascent to shouts of joy from the Earth-bound watchers.
"Welcome to space!" the commentator announced a few minutes later, just before the ship began its descent.
Branson's face filled the big screen, streamed in from the rocket: "I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars. Now I'm an adult in a spaceship!" he said to the crowd.
As the ship came back to Earth, Khalid took to the stage. Millions of listeners tuned in to hear him debut his newest song, "New Normal"—a wink towards future space tourism.
Once the landing was complete and the rocket parked only a few meters from the stage, Branson arrived.
After hugging his family, he stepped up on the platform to give out their astronaut wings, official Federal Aviation Administration pins shaped like wings to symbolize their new status as astronauts.
Branson then popped open the champagne, liberally spraying it over himself and his crewmates before drinking it straight from the bottle.
The consummate showman, he also unveiled a competition for space enthusiasts to win two free tickets on Virgin Galactic flights through the website Omaze—and a personal guided tour of Spaceport America.
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