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Richard Branson Is First Billionaire to Reach Space

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Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and one of the world's leading entrepreneurs | Richard Branson Is First Billionaire to Reach Space | featured

After 17 years of development, Virgin Galactic finally made the dream of founder Richard Branson come true. The British business magnate and adventurer finally reached space, becoming the first billionaire to do so in the process.  

RELATED: Space Race Heats Up As Virgin Galactic To Launch July 11

Dream of a Lifetime

The Virgin Galactic founder called the spaceflight the “complete experience of a lifetime” as he reached outer space for the first time and saw Earth from a distance. “I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, and honestly nothing could prepare you for the view of Earth from space,” Branson later said of his experience. 

Richard Branson, along with two pilots and three crew members, flew aboard Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity. A carrier aircraft the VMS Eve hitched Unity to 40,000 feet, where it fired its own rocket engine. To escape the Earth’s atmosphere, Unity had to reach speeds that are three times the speed of sound.  

Richard Branson Reaches Outer Space

Upon reaching outer space, VSS Unity performed a slow backflip. This caused the passengers, including Branson, to become weightless and float around in the cabin. Ultimately, Unity ascended to an altitude of 53.5 miles (86.1 kilometers or 282,000 feet). It then proceeded to return to base by gliding through the atmosphere. 

Pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci flew Unity. In addition to  Richard Branson, the Unit crew included chief astronaut trainer Beth Moses, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett and VP of government affairs Sirisha Bandla. Mackay, Masucci, and Moses previously, ade trip to space. By definition, pilots who reached an altitude above 80 kilometers are deemed, astronauts.

Space Travel Becoming a Reality

With Branson’s successful flight, space tourism is slowly becoming a reality for companies like Virgin, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. With Sunday’s flight, Branson became the first billionaire space company owner to ride his own spacecraft.

In fact, the hype surrounding Unity’s flight boosted Virgin’s profile and managed to gather 600 reservations for tickets on future flights. However, reservation seats cost between $200,000 to $250,000. 

In a statement after the flight, Branson said that ultimately, the goal is to make spaceflight accessible. “We’re here to make space more accessible to all at all. The mission statement that I wrote inside my spacesuit was to turn the dream of space travel into a reality for my grandchildren, and for many people who are alive today, for everybody.”

Spaceflight Goals

This is Virgin Galactic’s fourth spaceflight, and the second one this year. It plans two other flights later this year. However, this is the first time the flight carried more than one passenger.

In addition to flying Branson, the spaceflight continued to test its spacecraft system. Plus, the four crew members are testing the spacecraft’s cabin and its own proprietary training program. Additionally, Bandla performs a research experiment involving plants in test tubes for the University of Florida.

In addition, Richard Branson also announced that Virgin Galactic will partner with sweepstakes company Omaze for a raffle promotion offering two free seats to a Virgin spaceflight. “You have a chance to go to space,” Branson said.

Each entry to the sweepstakes will require a donation to the non-profit called Space For Humanity. Branson added that he will put on his “Willy Wonka hat” to give the winners a guided tour of Spaceport America.“It’s a way of just trying to get lots of people who couldn’t otherwise afford to go to space, to go to space,” Branson said.

Watch the CNET Highlights of Virgin Galactic’s launch including founder Richard Branson to space (first zero-G!)

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  • Nate Paris says:

    Enthusiasts such as Richard Branson raise the bar on the capabilities for what all inventive thinkers have the capabilities of doing. I strongly support anyone who reaches for the possibilities man can achieve. Best wishes and best of luck to all innovated thinkers that make this World reach for the highest achieving possibilities. All WE need now is another Jacque Cousteau to reach the depths of Our undiscovered waters!

  • I think space travel is a dream for many people. Seeing it in my lifetime is a joy. Thank you to those who can afford it and put their money out to make this a reality

  • Thomas C Holcomb says:

    WHO REALLY CARES ABOUT SPACE FLIGHT.

  • Bill Mannheim says:

    It’s just a joy ride now, but hopefully a first step I actually going to another planet in the future.

  • Masterredfox says:

    This is coming, I just hope that we don’t have the for profit hazards that we currently already have with overcrowded seating on regular airline travel occurring in space travel arrangements. As with any travel, no matter where, there should be a limited amount of persons so that comfort is the priority key. Especially if they are aiming for this to be available for the larger consumer group beyond the ultra rich. I have no intention in space travel arrangements if it involves sardine style travel arrangements. It can be done. Let’s not take class downgrade into space.. I want to be as comfortable as Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos when I get to travel in space.

  • Sheila Wolff says:

    I THINK IT WOULD BE A INTERESTING AND AWESOME OPPORTUNITY!

  • Lynn Bertaut says:

    So many people in this world could use a little of this money spent on a short ride to look at the earth from???miles up. Lets help the true needy with all this cash going out in space.

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