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Billionaire Richard Branson Completes Successful Space Flight on Virgin Galactic

Billionaire Richard Branson Completes Successful Space Flight on Virgin Galactic

The flight also represents the launch of a new era in space tourism.

In the billionaire’s race for space, Virgin Galactic owner Richard Branson rocketed ahead of the competition today, successfully completing a sub-orbital test flight show that his company’s spaceplane is ready for passengers.

Richard Branson reached space on a test flight for Virgin Galactic before gliding back to earth and touching down safely Sunday, the latest salvo in the burgeoning space tourism business led by high-profile billionaires.

The Virgin Group founder launched Sunday with three company employees, flying 53 miles above the earth in a final test mission before kicking off commercial space flights next year. Branson – who earned his pilot’s license – tested the astronaut cabin experience.

The space entrepreneur seemed to have really enjoyed the trip.

Branson received a gracious acknowledgement for competing space entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, who is planning his own launch July 20.

The success of the flight also gave the flamboyant entrepreneur bragging rights in a highly publicized rivalry with fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos, the Amazon (AMZN.O) online retail mogul who had hoped to fly into space first aboard his own space company’s rocket.

“Congratulations on the flight,” Bezos said on Instagram. “Can’t wait to join the club!”

SpaceX founder and fellow billionaire Elon Musk also congratulation Branson after the flight.

The flight did have minor problems with video transmission; otherwise, the trip was a resounding success.

With about 500 people watching, including Branson’s family, Unity was carried aloft underneath a twin-fuselage aircraft. Then, at an altitude of about 8 1/2 miles (13 kilometers), Unity detached from the mother ship and fired its engine, reaching more than Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound, as it pierced the edge of space.

Spectators cheered, jumped into the air and embraced as the rocket plane touched down on Earth. Branson pumped his fists as he stepped out onto the runway and ran toward his family, bear-hugging his wife and children and scooping up his grandchildren in his arms.

Mike Moses, a top executive at Virgin Galactic, said that apart from some problems with the transmission of video images from inside the cabin, the flight was perfect, and the ship looked pristine.

“That was an amazing accomplishment,” former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, a one-time commander of the International Space Station, said from the sidelines. “I’m just so delighted at what this open door is going to lead to now. It’s a great moment.”

It has been a thrilling day for Americans who support the national space program, especially in light of China’s recent moves on the Moon and toward Mars. The flight also represents the launch of a new era in space tourism.

Veteran NASA Astronaut Tom Jones asserted on “Fox News Live” on Sunday that Virgin Galactic’s historic spaceflight opens “the door to space tourism.”

Jones, who flew on four space shuttle missions and spent 53 days working and living in space, called Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight “a great step forward.”

…Jones explained that the successful journey is significant because “it’s the opening of the door to space tourism, and that’s a new expansion of the economy in space.”

He noted that Virgin Galactic would make the trip shorter and cheaper “and so it opens access to a wider population of prospective space travelers.”

“Today you can take a vacation to Antarctica,” Jones said. “I think within 20 years you can take a vacation to space at the same price point,” he continued, noting that the price will drop “thanks to competition.”

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Comments

Congratulations to Branson and his team of engineers, scientists and technicians!

I liked that the audio didn’t work so that a prepared speech of great importance didn’t get through.

Everything’s so easy these days with computers except that you have to get the right cables. So many kinds of jacks and plugs.

I hope SPCE stock will get a huge runup tomorrow!

Wonder how much more efficient NASA would be if the director got to make the first flight on each new launch system?

A sub-orbital flight is hardly worthy of this much attention in my opinion

    alohahola in reply to geronl. | July 12, 2021 at 7:44 am

    I wasn’t paying much attention to the lead-up hype, so didn’t realize it was a sub-orbital trip.

    I thought he was going into space for at least five days NOT to the edge for five minutes!

    Much ado about absolutely nothing.

      alaskabob in reply to alohahola. | July 12, 2021 at 1:47 pm

      The flight profile was 10 seconds less than Alan Shepard’s sub-orbital flight. Think of this as the X-15 era. But on the other hand, in late summer , SpaceX (which has entered $$$ tourism to ISS) will try out the heavy… and THAT is Saturn V territory.

    daniel_ream in reply to geronl. | July 12, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    This. People really, really think space travel is like Star Trek.

    jimB in reply to geronl. | July 12, 2021 at 4:36 pm

    Seems more like a Disneyland ride than anything useful. Whereas, Bezos is developing technology for space exploration.

At least they didn’t die in the attempt.
I’m really worried about the Amazon guy’s passengers.

    henrybowman in reply to JohnC. | July 12, 2021 at 5:28 pm

    If the passengers don’t arrive at their destination properly, they will always reship new ones.

These are the same assholes that say that you should not be driving you gasoline powered car because it emits CO2. They, on the other hand, can emit as much of it as they like to have a joyride.

I have nothing against the concept of private space flight. I have lots against the hypocrisy.

    E Howard Hunt in reply to lhw. | July 12, 2021 at 8:06 am

    Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, believes that future trips departing from American soil fall under his direct authority, reaching as far as Uranus.

I don’t understand why the media are making a big deal about this. In the billionaires’ race for space, Elon Musk won years ago with his first suborbital flights. Sure, he didn’t go himself, which is a wise decision because the billionaire is just baggage, not a crew member.

Musk is routinely delivering cargo and crews into orbit and to the ISS, having the rockets land on postage stamps, and re-using them. A suborbital tourist flight is no big deal.

    alaskabob in reply to OldProf2. | July 12, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    The twin landings of the side boosters for Falcon Heavy at the Cape were pure science fiction come to life. Purchasers of payload space on Falcons have a choice of using new or reused booters and many are choosing the flight-tested ones.

    henrybowman in reply to OldProf2. | July 12, 2021 at 5:49 pm

    That’s a lot like saying that as long as we have Exxon tankers, cruise ships are redundant.

Contrarian here. The use of the aft control surfaces as a giant airbrake is very cool. It remains to be seen if it can be applied to a more serious flight vehicle. Slowing from Mach 25 is a little more demanding than slowing from Mach 3.

healthguyfsu | July 12, 2021 at 4:53 pm

I don’t GAF about playboy do-nothing Richard Branson (yes he did something once…now he just plays and pulpits).

Wake me up when someone who’s not a Obama chumming d-bag does something fun.

Did vile, narcissist-incompetent, Obama, text his Virgin Islands beach buddy to admonish him that “you didn’t build that; somebody else made this happen?”

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