TravelGuides – Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson plans July spaceflight to pre-empt Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin trip


TravelGuides – Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson plans July spaceflight to pre-empt Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin trip

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson says he’ll be Astronaut 001 on the corporate’s subsequent take a look at flight. (Virgin Galactic through YouTube)

The billionaire area race is on: Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson is on the crew for the subsequent take a look at flight of the corporate’s SpaceShipTwo rocket airplane, which is scheduled to cross the 50-mile area frontier as early as July 11. That’s 9 days earlier than Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is planning his personal suborbital area trip.


Virgin Galactic’s flight take a look at plan, introduced at this time, units up a battle for the bragging rights related to being the primary individual to experience his personal firm’s rocket ship into area.


Neither man can be the primary billionaire in area. That distinction belongs to veteran Microsoft executive Charles Simonyi, who traveled to the International Space Station in 2007 and 2009.

Moreover, the definition of the area frontier might add an asterisk to the report guide: Virgin Galactic sides with the Federal Aviation Administration in defining the area boundary because the 50-mile-excessive mark. Blue Origin plans to ship its New Shepard spaceship past the 100-kilometer (62-mile) altitude that at present serves because the internationally accepted boundary of area.

Previously: Jeff Bezos invites pioneering woman aviator Wally Funk to join him on space trip

Either manner, the area race is probably going to make for a dramatic few weeks, contemplating the dangers that include testing new area autos — not to point out the egos of the billionaire area barons.

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity rocket airplane has gone through 20 tests, together with three crewed flight exams that soared greater than 50 miles. The firm had deliberate to conduct yet another flight take a look at earlier than placing Branson on board, however that schedule was modified after Bezos announced that he’d go into space on July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon touchdown.

For the primary time, Virgin Galactic will present streaming video protection of the whole flight on its website in addition to its Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels. Coverage is predicted to start at 9 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. MT / 6 a.m. PT on the day of the flight.

There’s no assure that both billionaire will fly on the at present designated day. Technical points or climate considerations might pressure postponements, including one more supply of drama.

The purpose of Virgin Galactic’s subsequent flight take a look at is to consider the seats and different facets of the cabin atmosphere with a full crew. Branson and his crewmates will assess the way it’ll really feel when clients get on board for a roughly 2.5-hour flight that features a jiffy of weightlessness and a 50-mile-excessive view of the curving Earth.

They’ll additionally pattern the coaching program at Virgin Galactic’s terminal at New Mexico’s Spaceport America, and exhibit procedures for conducting human-tended analysis experiments.

Pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci can be on the controls in VSS Unity, whereas CJ Sturckow and Kelly Latimer can be flying the rocket airplane’s twin-fuselage mothership, VMS Eve.

Branson’s companions within the passenger cabin can be Beth Moses, chief astronaut teacher, who took a trip to space in February 2019; lead operations engineer Colin Bennett; and Sirisha Bandia, vp of presidency affairs and analysis operations. Bandia can be accountable for an experiment from the University of Florida that requires a number of handheld fixation tubes to be activated at varied factors throughout the flight.

“As the Virgin Galactic founder, I am so proud to have this remarkable crew of mission specialists and pilots by my side as we fly to space. I’ve always been a dreamer. My mum taught me to never give up and to reach for the stars. This July, our dream will become a reality,” Branson said in a video previewing the flight.

“When we return, I will announce something very exciting to give more people a chance to become astronauts,” he promised.

Results of the take a look at flight can be evaluated and fed into what are anticipated to be the ultimate two flights of the VSS Unity take a look at program — one other flight aimed toward evaluating the client expertise, which was beforehand due to carry Branson; and a analysis flight for the Italian Air Force.

Virgin Galactic is aiming to start business area excursions in 2022, with about 600 clients on the ready listing. Those clients have paid as a lot as $250,000 for his or her reservation, and the value is bound to go up when ticket gross sales resume.

Word of Branson’s flight plans provided a boost for Virgin Galactic’s share price, which shot up greater than 25% at this time in after-hours buying and selling.

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TravelGuides – Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson plans July spaceflight to pre-empt Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin trip


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