Richard Branson Soars into Space & Back

 Virgin Galactic & Richard Branson Make History

                                        Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson Soaring into Space

                                               SpaceShip Unity Launching from VMS Eve

                                VMS Eve with Unity in Center

Branson flying to space with co-workers in Unity

                       SpaceShip Unity Flying Back to Earth
                                        View from Unity
                                Unity Detaching from VMS Eve
                                    Source:  Virgin Galactic

Dawn of Space Tourism

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson has successfully soared into space and returned safely to Earth.  The British billionaire undoubtedly had the greatest adventure of his life.  His SpaceShipTwo Unity took off from New Mexico's Spaceport America attached to the underside of the huge, double fuselage WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft VMS Eve.  50 minutes after takeoff, spaceship Unity fired its rocket engine and launched into space, reaching speeds in excess of Mach 3.  The successful space flight marks a landmark for the commercial space industry to bring tourists to space.

"Experience of a Lifetime"

Unity soared into the lower edges of space, reaching 56 miles above the Earth. Branson and his fellow passengers experienced zero gravity weightlessness and saw fabulous views of the Earth below them.  Branson called it "the experience of a lifetime" as Unity smoothly returned to Earth for a perfect landing back in New Mexico.

History Is Made

Branson made history today as the first person to go to space in their own spacecraft, which his company Virgin Galactic has developed and built over nearly two decades.  The flight also demonstrated how smoothly his space technology works.  There will be at least one more test flight in 2021 before Virgin Galactic begins commercial space tourism trips in 2022.  Virgin Galactic expects to offer 100 space trips per year.  Ticket prices start at $250,000.  Branson's historic flight lasted about an hour.  The pilots controlling SpaceShip Unity were Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci.  Former NASA astronaut CJ Sturckow and former NASA research pilot Kelly Latimer flew VMS Eve, named after Branson's mother, who died from COVID complications this year. Branson was joined for the Unity flight by Virgin Galactic employees: Chief Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses, Colin Bennet and Sirisha Bandla.

2nd Billionaire in Space

On July 20, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is expected to travel into space on his Blue Origin spacecraft and New Shepherd launch rocket.  Like Branson and SpaceX's Elon Musk, Bezos is building a big commercial space operations company.  Bezos will be the second billionaire entrepreneur adventurer to travel on their own technology into space.  Perhaps Branson put it best:  "I think the least the founder of a company can do is go up there and fly with his people." 


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