Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson has become the first space tourism to ride into space aboard a rocket plane that his company has been developing for 17 years. He has beaten billionaire space fans Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, who plans to fly to space aboard a Blue Origin rocket later this month.
BBC News reports that billionaire Sir Richard Branson has become the first space tourism pioneer to ride into space, making the journey aboard a rocket plane that his company has been developing for 17 years. Branson called the trip the “experience of a lifetime.”
Branson and his crew returned safely to Earth just an hour after leaving the ground. In a press conference following the flight, Branson said: “I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, but honestly nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space. The whole thing was just magical.”
Branson reached a height of 282,000 feet in the rocket plane known as Unity. Branson was accompanied by the vehicle’s two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, and three Galactic employees; Beth Moses, Colin Bennett, and Sirisha Bandla.
Branson tweeted about the experience including a video of his message to people back on Earth during the flight:
I was once a child with a dream looking up to the stars. Now I'm an adult in a spaceship looking down to our beautiful Earth. To the next generation of dreamers: if we can do this, just imagine what you can do https://t.co/Wyzj0nOBgX #Unity22 @virgingalactic pic.twitter.com/03EJmKiH8V
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 11, 2021
Branson has said that the flight is a test of the space tourism experience he expects to begin selling to customers from next year. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has reportedly already paid a $10,000 deposit to secure a seat on a future Virgin Galactic trip.
“I’ve had my notebook with me and I’ve written down 30 or 40 little things that will make the experience for the next person who goes to space with us that much better,” Branson said. “The only way sometimes you can find these little things is to get in a spaceship and go to space and experience it for yourself.”
Fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos is expected to make his own trip to the stars on July 20. Bezos will be traveling to space on his own shuttle titled New Shepard developed by his aerospace firm Blue Origin. Bezos is to be accompanied by his younger brother Mark Bezos.
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