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Travel Guides – Sir Richard Branson sets 11 July to make spaceflight

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Sir Richard has been busy of late coaching for his journey to the sting of area

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Sir Richard Branson has named the date he’ll fly to the sting of area. It can be 11 July, or very quickly after.

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He’ll be a passenger at the back of the Unity rocket airplane his Virgin Galactic firm has been growing within the US for the higher a part of 20 years.

The automobile can climb to an altitude of 90km (295,000ft), giving these onboard a couple of minutes of weightlessness and a view of the curvature of the Earth.

Sir Richard’s intention is to introduce a industrial spaceflight service.

Some 600 people have already lodged deposits to take the experience.

Witnessing the British entrepreneur do it means these clients at the moment are getting extraordinarily shut to having to hand over the complete ticket value, which in some circumstances can be $250,000 (£180,000).

Sir Richard Branson stated: “I truly believe that space belongs to all of us. After 17 years of research, engineering and innovation, the new commercial space industry is poised to open the Universe to humankind and change the world for good.

“It’s one factor to have a dream of constructing area extra accessible to all; it is one other for an unbelievable staff to collectively flip that dream into actuality.”

Unity spaceship

The Unity rocket airplane climbs to an altitude of 90km (295,000ft)

Absolutely key to Virgin Galactic shifting ahead with its enterprise was the granting final week of a industrial spaceflight licence by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Sunday 11 July is the opening of what is termed a flight “window”. The Galactic team will aim to make the ascent on that day, but it could of course be delayed because of unfavourable weather conditions or perhaps a technical issue.

If the mission does indeed go ahead on that Sunday, it would mean Sir Richard stealing a march on his rival in sub-orbital space tourism, fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos.

The founder of the online retail empire Amazon.com has sunk a fortune into his hobby of building rockets and has announced his own trip to the edge of space on 20 July.

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He’s invited three individuals to join him in his New Shepard booster and capsule system: his brother Mark; a mystery person who paid $28m (£20m) at auction for a seat; and the famed female aviator Wally Funk.

Eighty-two-year old Funk trained to be an astronaut in the 1960s and will become the oldest ever spacefarer when she rockets to an altitude of 100km with Mr Bezos.

The Amazon man has yet to detail how he’ll sell tickets more generally for New Shepard, but this is his plan.

Bezos and Funk

Wally Funk will be the oldest person ever to go to space when she flies with Jeff Bezos

Sir Richard has clearly moved his first flight up in response to Mr Bezos naming the date for his inaugural mission.

The original schedule for the next Unity flight called for four Virgin Galactic employees to ride as passengers to test the cabin experience for future tourists. Only after that outing was Sir Richard supposed to strap himself in.

He’ll now be one of the four testers – alongside Beth Moses, Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor; Colin Bennett, lead operations engineer; and Sirisha Bandla, vice president of government affairs.

The two pilots up front will be Dave Mackay and Michael “Sooch” Masucci.

Space tourism is a sector being rekindled after a decade’s hiatus.

Throughout the 2000s, seven wealthy individuals paid to visit the International Space Station (ISS). But this adventurism, organised under the patronage of the Russian space agency, ceased in 2009.

Now, new initiatives abound, and some of these will be aiming much higher than the sub-orbital flights from Sir Richard and Jeff Bezos.

California tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has already lined up several private missions in his Dragon capsules. These vehicles reach several hundred km above the Earth and will stay up for days.

The Russians, too, are reprising their commercial flights to the ISS, and there are even those who want to launch private space stations for people to visit. Among these is Axiom, a company started by a former Nasa ISS programme manager.

Lift off

The New Shepard rocket and capsule flies from West Texas

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