Virgin Galactic's space launch of Richard Branson: Why you should pay attention

Business

CNET 09 July, 2021 - 12:12pm 15 views

When is Richard Branson going into space?

Branson is slated to go into space 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. Space.comRichard Branson says he isn't racing Jeff Bezos into space with Virgin Galactic launch

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 CNET

Richard Branson talks about his upcoming space trip

Reuters 09 July, 2021 - 03:17pm

Sir Richard Branson denies he and Jeff Bezos are in a contest into space

Daily Mail 09 July, 2021 - 03:17pm

By Ryan Morrison For Mailonline

Virgin Galactic founder, Sir Richard Branson, moved his trip to space to an earlier test flight after Jeff Bezos announced he was going up, but claims no rivalry, saying 'we both wished each other well'. 

Branson will join five others on a test flight to the edge of space on July 11, one week before his 71st birthday, and nine days before Bezos goes up with Blue Origin.

He will launch on the next of three test flights due to operate this year, before commercial operations begin in 2022 from Spaceport America in New Mexico. 

The British billionaire denied he and Bezos were in a contest to see who would go up first, despite changing from the second to the first VSS Unity test flight. 

'I just wish him and people going up with him all the very best,' he said, adding he 'looks forward to talking to him about his ride when he comes back.'

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos will launch to the edge of space on the New Shepherd rocket on July 20 - the 52nd anniversary of the first moon landing. 

Virgin Galactic founder, Sir Richard Branson, moved his trip to space to an earlier test flight after Jeff Bezos announced he was going up, but claims no rivalry, saying 'we both wished each other well'

Ready to launch: Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos inspects New Shepard's West Texas launch facility. One seat on the flight, scheduled for July 20, has been auctioned to the highest bidder

May 2021: Sir Richard Branson's VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo rocket plane successfully launches from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

It powered to a height of 55 miles (89km) and then glided back down to Earth.

The test flight was the first with the pilots flying solo.

Summer 2021: A second test flight is due to take place with a full load to test the passenger cabin.

It is set to include the pilots plus four as yet unnamed Virgin Galactic employees. However, could Branson now be among them?

A third test flight is also planned and this is when the Virgin Galactic founder had been expected to gain his commercial astronaut wings.

It is designed to showcase the astronaut experience through the eyes of the company founder.

September 2021: First revenue generation flight with the Italian Air Force to test passenger and payload.

This flight will take both astronauts and scientific equipment to the edge of space on VSS Unity. 

Early 2022: The start of full commercial flights from Spaceport America.

The dozens of Future Astronauts, who paid to fly to the edge of space, will begin earning their astronaut wings. 

Branson said he and the company have spent 17 years trying to get to this point, something that 'means a lot to him,' with commercial operations starting in 2022.

It will be the fourth flight of VSS Unity and only the second to include passengers in the cabin, the first saw Beth Moses go up in February 2019.

This will be the first of three final flights required to test all aspects of the cabin and passenger experience, with Branson saying he got 'truly excited' when the final safety checks cam through and he was asked if he wanted to go into space. 

The British billionaire said his wife may be nervous about the launch but he himself wasn't the least bit afraid.

'I've been looking forward to this for 17 years,' Branson said from Spaceport America near the remote town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

He said pre-flight preparations only add to the excitement ahead of Sunday's scheduled launch, which will be taking place one week before his 71st birthday.

'Every bit about it is a pinch-me moment,' he added.

The launch of Virgin Galactic VSS Unity rocket plane over the desert will mark the space tourism company's fourth crewed test mission beyond Earth's atmosphere.

But it will be the first to carry a full complement of space travellers, consisting of Branson, two pilots and three mission specialists. 

Branson has been styled as Astronaut 001 for the first full-cabin flight along with a number of top Virgin Galactic employees.

He will travel with Virgin Galactic Chief Astronaut Beth Moses, Lead Operations Engineer Colin Bennett and Vice President of Government Affairs Sirisha Bandla. 

They will fly along with pilots David Mackay, Michael Masucci up front of the VSS Unity spaceship. 

It has been dubbed Unity 22, as it is the 22nd total test flight for Virgin Galactic. 

A photo shows the release of VSS Unity from VMS Eve and ignition of rocket motor over Spaceport America, New Mexico

Unity will be launched at an altitude of about 50,000 feet from a Virgin Galactic carrier plane known as VMS Eve, then soar on its own rocket power to the boundary of space - just over 50 miles above the Earth's surface.

When at this point the crew will experience about four minutes of weightlessness before beginning a descent back to Earth.

The trip is not without the inherent hazards of spaceflight. An earlier prototype of the rocket plane crashed during a 2014 test flight over California's Mojave Desert, killing one pilot and seriously injuring the other.

Asked how his family reacted to the news last week that he would join Sunday's crew, Branson said his children - adventurous like him - were excited, but suggested his wife, Joan, while supportive, was more wary.

Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic's chief astronaut instructor, who flew to space on the company's second spaceflight mission will be on board

Colin Bennett, the company's lead operations engineer, will also join the flight

Sirisha Bandla, Virgin Galactic's vice president of government affairs and research operations

'My wife is the sort of person who would be terrified on a Virgin Atlantic airplane,' he said, adding 'she's the last person who would want to do something like this.' 

'But she's known me since I tried to balloon across the Atlantic or the Pacific or around the world, and she still seems to love us.'

He laughed as he quoted his wife telling him: 'If you're foolish enough to do these wonderful things, you can do it, but I won't be going to your funeral.''

By joining the flight on July 11, Branson has positioned himself to beat rival entrepreneur Jeff Bezos into space by nine days.

Virgin Galactic´s Richard Branson is set to beat Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos being the first to blast off into space on their July 11 flight. Branson is pictured in 2019

Dubbed the 'NewSpace' set, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US beat the Soviet Union in the space race, and there is no doubt how much it would mean to each of them to win the 'new space race'.

Bezos, founder of the retail giant Amazon, as well as space firm Blue Origin, will be on board the suborbital flight of the New Shepard spacecraft on July 20.

Bezos will travel to the edge of space with Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, a trailblazing 82-year-old female aviator, and member of the famed 'Mercury 13' volunteers.

Mercury 13 was an all female 'women in space' program that, despite having the support of NASA never launched an astronaut into space. 

As well as Bezos and Mary Wallace Funk, a member of Blue Origin staff and the winner of a $28 million auction to go up on the New Shepherd.

Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, along with Elon Musk's SpaceX, are competing head-to-head in the emerging space tourism business.

The first of the two will be directly competing to take paying passengers to the edge of space in a sub-orbital flight, allowing them to earn their astronaut wings.

They will also be competing to send science payloads and researchers up so they can test their experiments while in a low gravity environment. 

Branson denied he and Bezos were in a contest to see who would go up first.

'I just wish him and people going up with him all the very best. I look forward to talking to him about his ride when he comes back,' Branson said of Bezos. 'I spoke to him two or three weeks ago, and we both wished each other well.'

Success for both ventures is considered key to fostering a burgeoning industry that aims to eventually make space tourism mainstream. 

Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity, piloted by CJ Sturckow and Dave Mackay, is released from its mothership, VMS Eve, on the way to its first spaceflight after launch from Spaceport America, New Mexico in May

Blue Origins is launching Bezos, Wally Funk and others to the edge of space on July 20, the first test flight with a crew on board 

Virgin has said two additional test flights of its vehicle after the one on July 11 are planned before the company begins commercial service in 2022. 

This will include another full cabin experience test, as well as a flight taking up a crew from the Italian airforce. 

Branson said he anticipates offering paid flights on a 'regular basis' next year, which will come as a relief for the 600 'future astronaut' ticket holders who have waited over a decade for the opportunity to go into space.

Namira Salim, one of the earliest future astronaut ticket holders, wished Sir Richard Branson good luck. She said the firm was helping to fulfil her childhood dream of going into space, first formed as a little girl from Pakistan. 

'I wish you all the very best in skyrocketing as the first private spaceline in the world. Richard you have delivered your promise and you are our ace of space,' she said. 

Branson said he was confident there was plenty of room in the market for his venture and Bezos' company to compete.

'Neither of us are going to be able to build enough spaceships to satisfy the demand,' Branson said.

Unlike other commercial spaceflight companies, such as Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic initiates its flights without using a traditional rocket launch.

Instead, the firm launches its passenger-laden SpaceShipTwo and other craft from a carrier plane, dubbed WhiteKnightTwo.

WhiteKnightTwo is a custom-built, four-engine, dual-fuselage jet aircraft, designed to carry SpaceShipTwo up to an altitude of around 50,000 feet (15,240 metres).

The first WhiteKnightTwo, VMS Eve - which Virgin Galactic has used on all of its test flights - was rolled-out in 2008 and has a high-altitude, heavy payload capacity.

Unlike other commercial spaceflight companies, such as Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic initiates its flights without using a traditional rocket launch. Instead, the firm launches its passenger-laden SpaceShipTwo and other craft from a carrier plane, dubbed WhiteKnightTwo. Once SpaceShipTwo has propelled itself into space its engines shut off for a period of weightlessness before returning home

Once it reaches 50,000 feet (15,240 metres) the carrier plane releases SpaceShipTwo, a reusable, winged spacecraft designed to carry six passengers and two pilots into space.

Virgin Galactic has named its first SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity - the craft that the company has used in all of its test flights - though the firm is expected to build more in future.

Once released from WhiteKnightTwo, SpaceShipTwo's rocket motor engages 'within seconds', according to Virgin Galactic.

The craft will then fly approximately three and a half times the speed of sound (2,600mph/4,300kph) into suborbital space, reaching up to 360,890ft (110,000 metres) above the Earth's surface.

WhiteKnightTwo (artist's impression) is a custom-built, four-engine, dual-fuselage jet aircraft, designed to carry SpaceShipTwo up to an altitude of around 50,000 feet (15,240 metres)

This altitude is defined as beyond the edge of outer space by Nasa.

After the rocket motor has fired for around a minute, the pilots will shut it down, and passengers can then take off their seatbelts to experience weightlessness for several minutes.

The pilots will manoeuvre the spaceship to give the best possible views of Earth and space while raising the vehicle's wings to its 'feathered' re-entry configuration, which decelerates the craft and stabilises its descent.

As gravity pulls the spaceship back towards the Earth's upper atmosphere, astronauts will return to their seats ready to return to our planet.

At around 50,000 feet (15,240 metres), after re-entry, the pilot will return the spaceship's wings to their normal configuration, ready to glide back to Earth for a smooth runway landing. 

Once it reaches 50,000 feet (15,240 metres) the carrier plane releases SpaceShipTwo, a reusable, winged spacecraft designed to carry six passengers and two pilots into space. Virgin Galactic has named its first SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity (pictured) - the craft that the company has used in all of its test flights - though the firm is expected to produce more in future

The comments below have not been moderated.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

By posting your comment you agree to our house rules.

Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?

Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.

Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?

Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual

We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.

You can choose on each post whether you would like it to be posted to Facebook. Your details from Facebook will be used to provide you with tailored content, marketing and ads in line with our Privacy Policy.

Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group

The Billionaire Space Race

WSWS 09 July, 2021 - 03:17pm

Never mind the fact that 250 million more people live in extreme poverty than in early 2020, according to the World Bank, or that 1.5 billion informal workers living on the margins of society lost most or all of their income last year. This week, in some unknown hospital located somewhere on this planet, the 4 millionth person died of the coronavirus.

The pandemic has shown that the capitalist class is hostile to harnessing scientific advancement to meet the needs of the human race here on Earth. What better time for two men to pour billions of dollars into plans to launch themselves into space (actually, sub-orbital flight) to impress shareholders and have a bit of fun?

A substantial layer of the financial aristocracy unironically agrees. The same Scrooges who hoard their wealth in offshore tax havens so they don’t have to chip in for social programs were desperate to outbid one another for a seat on an upcoming billionaire space flight. At a recent auction, one poor sucker paid $29.7 million for a ticket aboard Bezos’s Blue Origin flight.

The Wall Street Journal described a gripping, absolutely ripping moment at the auction house: “Bidding opened at $4.9 million and rose quickly to $10 million before four participants competed to ultimately raise the price to $28 million. A 6 percent buyer’s commission is added to the winning bid, taking the final cost to $29.7 million. Blue Origin said 7,600 bidders from 159 countries registered for the event.”

Team Bezos and Team Branson are engaged in petty sniping over who will be the “real” first billionaire out of the atmosphere. It isn’t exactly Kennedy and Khrushchev.

Branson brags that he will depart sooner, but Bezos claims that Branson is too chicken to travel as far out as he. A Bezos spokesman told the New York Times, “We wish [Branson] a great and safe flight, but they’re not flying above the Karman line and it’s a very different experience.” The Karman line is located 62 miles above Earth and is used by scientists to mark the line between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space.

Amazon workers have many guesses as to why Bezos is so eager to make it into space. There are no taxes out there, surely, and since a day on the Moon is the equivalent of 27 here on Earth, that means a worker’s 14-hour shift would be the equivalent of 380 hours of labor, and try making that without a bathroom break! Or maybe Bezos figures if he sets up shop on the far side of the Moon no pesky reporters will be able to expose the sweat shop conditions that exist inside.

On the other hand, what is not for Bezos to like here on Earth? Democratic and Republican politicians line up to hand him billions in subsidies, and there are hundreds of administrative judges and doctors ready to help deny workers’ compensation claims.

Actually, Bezos himself explained what the venture is really about in a 2019 interview with CNBC:

We send things up into space, but they are all made on Earth. Eventually it will be much cheaper and simpler to make really complicated things, like microprocessors and everything, in space and then send those highly complex manufactured objects back down to Earth, so that we don’t have the big factories and pollution generating industries that make those things now on Earth. And Earth can be zoned residential.

In other words, Bezos’ actual desire is to build factories on the Moon and on Mars, where presumably all the workers will be forced to live, since nobody working at Amazon is going to have the time or the energy to make the commute back to Earth.

It seems that all Earthlings are happy about Bezos and Branson leaving the planet. Over 150,000 people signed a petition on change.org titled “To the proletariat: Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth.” The petitioners explain, “Billionaires should not exist ... on earth, or in space, but should they decide the latter, they should stay there.”

We at the World Socialist Web Site wish only that there was extra room in those space pods for Henry Kissinger.

The fantastic scientific gains of recent years, as expressed in such “giant leaps” as the 2012 Mars rover, only show the potential for harnessing the technological and intellectual capacities of mankind to meet human need. The rover, “Curiosity,” is still rolling across the surface of Mars, gathering data and samples that promise to open up new pathways to the understanding of our Solar System. It is an insult to humanity’s remarkable drive for scientific development that such advances are now used, under capitalism, to satisfy the megalomania of two individuals who pass on what they learn to the weapons manufacturers and intelligence agencies.

But there is something more than megalomania in Bezos’ and Branson’s strange desire to personally travel into space. In his 2016 novel Zero K, Don DeLillo captures something of the instability of an aristocratic layer that knows it is destroying the planet and sitting on a social powder keg.

The novel features an aging hedge fund manager who joins an elite group of billionaires and statesmen who cryogenically freeze themselves, clinging to the possibility of eternal life. One group member explains to the oligarchs that burying their frozen bodies deep down in the Earth will make them safe from revolution, war or climate disaster, and allow them to live until a time when they can rule again:

Your situation, those few of you on the verge of the journey toward rebirth. You are completely outside the narrative of what we refer to as history. You are about to become, each of you, a single life in touch only with yourself. That world, the one above, is being lost to the systems. To the transparent networks that slowly occlude the flow of all those aspects of nature and character that distinguish humans from elevator buttons and doorbells.

Like the French and Russian aristocracies swept away by the revolutions of 1789 and 1917, an entire social layer comprised of Bezoses and Bransons see itself as belonging to a class of people who are “out of this world.” Their interests are directly hostile to those of the broad masses of the world’s population, who comprise the working class, whom they exploit to acquire astronomical wealth. If Jeff Bezos makes it into space, it will only be on the backs of the Amazon workers he exploited and ground up to make profit.

Only a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism can sweep social parasites and exploiters like these from atop the commanding heights of the economy and harness the immense technological advances of humankind to serve the interests of billions of people.

For information, strategy and updates, sign up below.

Richard Branson Virgin Galactic

Business Stories

Top Stores