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Richard Branson Has Completed A Historic Trip

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6:21 pm
July 11, 2021


satubulan65

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Richard Branson Has Completed A Historic Trip To The Edge Of Space On Virgin Galactic
Sir Richard Branson and a crew of three others grazed the edge of space on Sunday in a rocket built by the British billionaire’s company, Virgin Galactic. The flight ushers in a new chapter in the world of aeronautics, with Virgin Galactic among a handful of ambitious and well-funded ventures racing to commercialize travel to space.

Lifting off from Spaceport America in Las Cruces, N.M., — a commercial space flight center about 180 miles south of Albuquerque —Branson was among a crew of four “mission specialists” who reached speeds three times the speed of sound.

The spacecraft, which was attached to a larger plane, taxied across a runway at Spaceport America before lifting off at about 8:40 a.m. local time.

As the mothership — manned by two pilots — approached more than 46,000 feet above the earth’s surface, Virgin Galactic live streamed a video of vignettes about the vessel, interviews with NASA astronauts and other material hosted by late night comedian Stephen Colbert.

The ascent to the launch — where the mothership released the Galactic Unity 22 — lasted nearly 50 minutes. Once detached, an on-board rocket was engaged, shooting Galactic Unity 22 to a peak altitude of more than 282,000 feet.

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While communications to the vessel were limited, Branson could be heard saying it was an “experience of a lifetime” and described looking down on the Spaceport as “beautiful.”

He congratulated those involved in the project, including his crew.

Joining him on the Galactic Unity 22 were three of employees from Virgin Galactic — Beth Moses, the chief astronaut instructor; Colin Bennett, lead operations engineer; and Sirisha Bandla, vice president of government affairs and research operations.

Branson and the three others on the craft were weightless for a few moments before the Galactic Unity 22 made its descent.

Branson said the trip was a life-long dream
Branson told NPR’s Morning Edition this past week that he’d yearned for such a trip since he was a child.

“I was a kid once, standing with my dad and my sister, looking up at the moon, being told that Buzz and Neil were standing on it,” Branson said, referring to the famous Apollo 11 astronauts. “And I just thought, I’ve got to go to space one day.”

Sunday’s launch was pushed back about 90 minutes from its original start time because weather conditions overnight resulted in a delay of the spacecraft leaving its hangar. But as the sun rose, conditions at the launch site looked favorable for the flight.

First registering the name Virgin Galactic in 2004, Branson’s effort to launch into space has demanded the work of hundreds of engineers and millions of dollars. Once believing it might take six or seven years to achieve the goal of going to space, it’s taken more than twice that long for Branson’s company, which endured a fatal test flight in 2014.

Billionaires like Branson are setting their sights on space
Branson — whose 71st birthday is a week from Sunday — is one in a trio of billionaire businessmen who’ve launched commercial space flight ventures..

Jeff Bezos, the founder and executive chairman of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, is set to take his company Blue Origin to space on July 20. In June, Bezos auctioned off the first seat on the company’s New Shepherd spacecraft for $28 million.

Elon Musk, the CEO and chief engineer of Space X, has also been in pursuit of creating commercial space flight opportunities.

While competition between the three men has been the focal point in recent months, Branson and Musk appeared to be in a celebratory mood Sunday before the Virgin Galactic flight.

“Big day ahead. Great to start the morning with a friend. Feeling good, feeling excited, feeling ready,” Branson tweeted in the morning, posting a photo of himself with Musk.

After a series of exchanges on the social media platform, Musk tweeted back, “Godspeed!”

Virgin Galactic’s current flagship, SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity, has a maximum capacity of eight people, including two pilots and six passengers.

The company aims to begin launching customers in 2022, with tickets selling for $250,000 apiece. More than 600 people have already purchased tickets for the near-space joyride.

Virgin Galactic’s rocket reaches space with Richard Branson on board
The suborbital trip edges out fellow billionaire and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who is planning a similar feat July 20 with his company, Blue Origin.
The British entrepreneur earned his astronaut wings Sunday, after flying to space aboard a rocket-powered vehicle developed by his space tourism company, Virgin Galactic. Though just a test flight, the expedition — Virgin Galactic’s first with a full crew — is a major boost for the company, which is aiming to start commercial flights with paying customers in 2022.

In a live broadcast during the vehicle’s descent, Branson called the trip an “experience of a lifetime.”

Branson’s trip to space edges out fellow billionaire and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who is planning a similar feat July 20 aboard a rocket and capsule designed by his own space company, Blue Origin. Though Branson, 70, has shrugged off notions that he’s competing with Bezos, the timing of the two flights is the culmination of a yearslong rivalry among Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and other companies vying for a leg up in the burgeoning space tourism industry.

Branson’s flight was a suborbital jaunt, so rather than reaching orbit and circling the Earth, the vehicle flew to the edge of space, at an altitude of more than 50 miles, where passengers experienced roughly four minutes of weightlessness before returning to the ground. On previous test flights, the winged craft has reached an altitude of around 55 miles.

Virgin Galactic’s flights launch from Spaceport America, along a desolate stretch of desert in New Mexico. The company’s SpaceShipTwo Unity craft is designed to take off on a conventional runway while attached to the underbelly of a carrier ship known as WhiteKnightTwo. The vehicles fly to an altitude of 50,000 feet, where Unity is subsequently released and its engine ignites to rocket to the edge of space.

Branson’s flight took off Sunday morning at around 10:30 a.m. ET. The launch time was delayed by around 90 minutes because of overnight weather conditions at Spaceport America.

Branson was joined on his flight by pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci and three mission specialists, all of whom are employees of Virgin Galactic: Chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett and government affairs vice president Sirisha Bandla.

Virgin Galactic is expected to conduct several additional test flights before beginning commercial operations with private customers next year. The company has said the suborbital joyrides will likely cost more than $250,000 each, but final pricing has not yet been announced.

Branson founded Virgin Galactic in 2004 but the firm’s progress — as is the case with much of the private spaceflight industry — has taken years longer than expected. The company suffered a high-profile setback in 2014 when its first-generation SpaceShipTwo vehicle crashed in the Mojave Desert in California during a test flight, killing one of the two pilots on board.

“It’s taken 17 years to get to this flight, and of course a lot of personal wealth has been poured into it, but it also shows that this takes tenacity,” said Greg Autry, a space policy expert at Arizona State University.

In addition to space tourism, Branson’s business empire includes Virgin Orbit, which launches satellites from a modified Boeing 747 aircraft that flies over the Mojave Desert.

This weekend’s flight adds more fuel to rivalries among the billionaire players within the private spaceflight industry. Until now, commercial launches have been dominated by Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, which has been ferrying cargo ships to and from the International Space Station and last year flew NASA astronauts to the orbiting lab.

SpaceX is planning other orbital tourism flights, including the first mission to space with an all-civilian crew.

Meanwhile, Bezos is planning his own trip to suborbital space July 20 when he is set to launch on the first operational flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket and capsule.

The New Shepard rocket launches vertically from a site in the Texas desert, southeast of El Paso. Despite the different takeoffs, Bezos’ trip is expected to be similar to Branson’s, though Blue Origin’s capsule can reach higher altitudes than Virgin Galactic’s Unity craft. This has become a point of contention, with Blue Origin suggesting that Branson’s flight won’t officially reach space.

The edge of space is often defined by the so-called Kármán line, at an altitude of 62 miles. Unlike Unity, the New Shepard capsule is designed to fly above the Kármán line, though the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Air Force both recognize a lower boundary for the edge of space, at an altitude of 50 miles.

Bezos will be joined on his flight by his brother Mark Bezos and Wally Funk, an 82-year-old former test pilot and one of the “Mercury 13” women who in the 1960s underwent training to demonstrate that women can meet NASA’s standards for its astronaut corps. An unidentified passenger who paid more than $28 million in an online auction for the last seat will round out the four-person crew.

Billionaire Richard Branson reaches space in his own ship
Thrill-seeking billionaire Richard Branson has reached space aboard his own winged rocket ship, bringing astro-tourism a step closer to reality
The nearly 71-year-old Branson and five crewmates from his Virgin Galactic space-tourism company reached an altitude of 53.5 miles (86 kilometers) over the New Mexico desert — enough to experience three to four minutes of weightlessness and witness the curvature of the Earth — and then glided back home to a runway landing.

“The whole thing, it was just magical,” a jubilant Branson said on his return aboard the gleaming white space plane, named Unity.

The brief, up-and-down flight — the space plane’s portion took only about 15 minutes, or about as long as Alan Shepard’s first U.S. spaceflight in 1961 — was a splashy and unabashedly commercial plug for Virgin Galactic, which plans to start taking paying customers on joyrides next year.

The nearly 71-year-old Branson and five crewmates from his Virgin Galactic space-tourism company reached an altitude of 53.5 miles (86 kilometers) over the New Mexico desert — enough to experience three to four minutes of weightlessness and witness the curvature of the Earth — and then glided back home to a runway landing.

“The whole thing, it was just magical,” a jubilant Branson said on his return aboard the gleaming white space plane, named Unity.

The brief, up-and-down flight — the space plane’s portion took only about 15 minutes, or about as long as Alan Shepard’s first U.S. spaceflight in 1961 — was a splashy and unabashedly commercial plug for Virgin Galactic, which plans to start taking paying customers on joyrides next year.

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.”

Virgin Galactic conducted three previous test flights into space with crews of just two or three.

The flamboyant, London-born founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways wasn’t supposed to fly until later this summer. But he assigned himself to an earlier flight after Bezos announced plans to ride his own rocket into space from Texas on July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Branson denied he was trying to outdo Bezos.

Branson’s other chief rival in the space-tourism race among the world’s richest men, SpaceX’s Elon Musk, came to

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