Watch Virgin Galactic launch Richard Branson to space

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The Verge 10 July, 2021 - 11:00am 19 views

When is Richard Branson going into space?

On July 11, Virgin Galactic will make a giant leap toward commercial suborbital spaceflight. The company will launch its first fully crewed flight of its SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity with a special passenger on board: the company's billionaire founder Richard Branson. Space.comVirgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Unity 22 launch with Richard Branson: Here's when to watch and what to know.

Who is going to space with Richard Branson?

Joining Mr. Branson are three senior Virgin Galactic staff. Beth Moses, the chief astronaut instructor, will be on board alongside lead operations engineer Colin Bennett and Sirisha Bandla, the company's head of government affairs. Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci will pilot the spacecraft. The Wall Street JournalRichard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Space Flight: What You Need to Know

When does Bezos launch?

The successful test flight set the stage for founder Jeff Bezos and crew to take to the skies with a July 20 launch. CNETJeff Bezos and Blue Origin: See how his journey to space is taking flight

Updated 1:12 PM ET, Fri July 9, 2021

Welcome Sirisha Bandla, Colin Bennett, and Beth Moses — our expert crew members joining @richardbranson on our #Unity22 test flight. Watch LIVE this Sunday at https://t.co/5UalYT7Hjb. @SirishaBandla @VGChiefTrainer pic.twitter.com/F4ZrGnH3vo

Read full article at The Verge

How to watch Branson’s flight, which Jeff Bezos is still hopping mad about

Ars Technica 10 July, 2021 - 02:04pm

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Virgin Galactic is continuing to make final preparations for the historic flight of its VSS Unity vehicle on Sunday morning, carrying the company's founder, Richard Branson, and three other employees. To that end, on Friday, the company announced that it will have a livestream, hosted by Stephen Colbert and featuring a new song by Khalid, to publicize the flight into space.

But wait, is it really space? Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says Virgin Galactic's flights above 80 km are not space.

In a pair of salty tweets on Friday, Bezos' space company, Blue Origin, took potshots at Virgin Galactic and its rocket-powered space plane. "From the beginning, New Shepard was designed to fly above the Kármán line so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name," the company tweeted. "For 96% of the world’s population, space begins 100 km up at the internationally recognized Kármán line."

From the beginning, New Shepard was designed to fly above the Kármán line so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name. For 96% of the world’s population, space begins 100 km up at the internationally recognized Kármán line. pic.twitter.com/QRoufBIrUJ

— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) July 9, 2021

The 96 percent implies that the rest of the world, aside from the United States, recognizes 100 km as the boundary of space. Both the US Air Force—which awarded astronaut wings to X-15 pilots who flew above 80 km—and the US Federal Aviation Administration have said that 80 km represents space.

Meanwhile the World Air Sports Federation, or FAI, uses 100 km to delineate the boundary of space for the purposes of establishing world records. However, the organization says it is looking at lowering this boundary from 100 km to 80 km, due to "recently published analyses [that] present a compelling scientific case for reduction in this altitude." This reevaluation is based partly on the scholarship of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics scientist Jonathan McDowell.

These two tweets from Blue Origin on Friday, which to be clear had to have come from the desk of Bezos, strike us as petty. Sure, Blue Origin's launch system goes higher. But Virgin Galactic has already flown humans to space three times. And some customers will appreciate the space plane experience more than a rocket launch.

This tone is strikingly smug for a rocket company that has yet to launch any people into space, nor put even a gram of payload into orbit after more than 20 years. At least Branson's other space company, Virgin Orbit, has already successfully reached orbit twice, and should soon begin to do so frequently. And just what sort of image is Bezos going for here, anyway? While he is building a $500 million super yacht, his main competitor in the space race, Elon Musk, is living in a $50,000 house in South Texas so he can be near his engineering and technical teams working on his Starship project.

Most likely Bezos simply remains upset at being upstaged by Branson, who moved forward his flight on the VSS Unity spacecraft after Bezos announced he was flying into space on July 20 aboard his suborbital New Shepard system. So Bezos had his communications team put together this graphic and tweet it out less than two days before Branson's flight. In the end, the tweets tell us more about Bezos than they do about his rocket—which is excellent—or of Virgin Galactic.

Anyway, you should totally watch the Virgin Galactic livestream, which begins at 7 am Mountain Time, or 13:00 UTC on Sunday morning. Ars will be on hand to take in the spectacle.

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Sir Richard Branson heads to space this weekend

ArkLaTex Homepage 10 July, 2021 - 02:04pm

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