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Richard Branson to beat Jeff Bezos with trip to space

2021-07-02 18:35 by
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British billionaire Richard Branson plans to beat fellow billionaire and rival Jeff Bezos to space. Branson's company, Virgin Galactic, made a surprise announcement Thursday that he will attempt to fly in Virgin's rocket-powered plane on July 11 - nine days before Bezos's planned July 20th launch.

Branson will take flight in VSS Unity along with a crew of six, consisting of pilots and space mission specialists. This is the company's fourth test flight, but the first one with a full crew on board.

The mission will also work to demonstrate the "conditions for conducting human-tended research experiments," with the training program at New Mexico-based Spaceport America supporting "the spaceflight experience."

The firm said it'll live stream the event across various platforms to hype this up - and probably rub the success in Bezos' face. Last month, it got approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to take passengers to space. The company plans to launch space flights for paying customers in 2022.

Bezos, who founded retail giant Amazon, is slated to fly to space on July 20 along with his brother, Mark, trailblazing female pilot Wally Funk and a so-far unidentified person who plunked down $28 million to join the suborbital joyride.

The race, which also includes SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk, is underpinned by optimism that space travel will become mainstream as nascent technology is proven and costs fall, fueling what UBS estimates could be a $3 billion annual tourism market by 2030. Musk has not set a date for his space flight.

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