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Richard Branson becomes 1st billionaire in space

2021-07-12 18:05 by


Virgin Galactic owner Richard Branson rocketed into space Sunday, an edge-of-the-seat sub-orbital test flight intended to demonstrate his company's air-launched spaceplane is ready for passengers who can afford the ultimate thrill ride. Calling his recent trip into space "the most incredible experience of my lifetime," Richard Branson said over the weekend that his Virgin Galactic company needs to build "a lot of spaceships" to meet future demand for spaceflight.

Branson's trip began in dramatic fashion as Virgin's twin-fuselage carrier jet - with the VSS Unity rocket-powered spaceplane bolted under its wing - lifted away from the company's Spaceport America launch site near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, at 8:40 a.m. local time (10:40 a.m. EDT).

Joining the globe-trotting billionaire aboard Unity were pilots David Mackay and Michael Masucci, along with Virgin astronaut trainer Beth Moses, flight engineer Colin Bennett and Sirisha Bandla, the company's vice president of government relations. Sunday's flight reached 53.5 miles high, affording the crew about four minutes of weightlessness.

Virgin Galactic is expected to conduct several more test flights before it begins commercial operations with private customers next year. The company has said trips to the edge of space are likely to cost more than $250,000 each, but final pricing has not yet been announced.

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