Race against time: Richard Branson announces trip to space, ahead of Jeff Bezos

Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson is aiming to beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos into house by 9 days.

Branson’s firm introduced Thursday night that its subsequent take a look at flight will probably be July 11 and that its founder will probably be among the many six individuals on board. The winged rocket ship will soar from New Mexico — the primary carrying a full crew of firm workers. It will probably be solely the fourth trip to house for Virgin Galactic.

The information got here simply hours after Blue Origin mentioned Bezos would be accompanied into space on July 20 by a feminine aerospace pioneer who’s waited 60 years to rocket away.

Bezos selected July 20 as his West Texas launch date — the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon touchdown. He assigned himself to the flight only a month in the past, the ultimate stretch in a yearslong race to house between the 2 wealthy rocketeers.

Amazon’s founder will probably be on Blue Origin’s debut launch with individuals on board, accompanied by his brother, the winner of a $28 million charity public sale and Wally Funk, one of the final surviving members of the Mercury 13 who was chosen as his “honored guest.” The 13 feminine pilots handed the identical exams as NASA’s authentic Mercury 7 astronauts again within the early Sixties, however have been barred from the corps — and spaceflight — as a result of they have been girls.

Richard Branson, proper, founder of Virgin Galactic, and firm executives collect for photographs outdoors the New York Stock Exchange earlier than his firm’s IPO. (Photo: AP)

As late as Wednesday, Branson declined to say when he would experience into house as a result of of restrictions positioned on him by his publicly traded firm. But he careworn he was “fit and healthy” to fly as quickly as his engineers give him the go.

“I’ve always been a dreamer. My mum taught me to never give up and to reach for the stars. On July 11, it’s time to turn that dream into a reality aboard the next @VirginGalactic,” he mentioned by way of Twitter.

Virgin Galactic launches its rocket ship from an plane, reaching an altitude of roughly 55 miles (88 kilometers). Blue Origin launches its New Shepard rocket from the bottom, with its capsule hovering to about 66 miles (106 kilometers). Both these heights are thought-about the sting of house. By comparability, Elon Musk’s SpaceX launches its capsules — each crew and cargo — into orbit round Earth.

All three private space companies plan to take paying clients into house. SpaceX would be the first with a non-public flight developing in September.

Flights by Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin final about 10 minutes, with three or so minutes of weightlessness. But the returns are fairly totally different: Virgin Galactic’s rocket aircraft glides to a touchdown on a runway, like NASA’s previous house shuttles did, with a pair of pilots in cost. Blue Origin’s automated capsules parachute to the desert ground, related to how NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules made ocean splashdowns. Their spaceports are simply 200 miles (320 kilometers) aside.

Virgin Galactic launches its rocket ship from an plane, reaching an altitude of roughly 55 miles (88 kilometers).

Funk, at age 82, will develop into the oldest individual to launch into house when Blue Origin takes its flip.

“I’ll love every second of it. Whoooo! Ha-ha. I can hardly wait,” Funk mentioned in an Instagram video posted by Bezos.

Also Read: ‘Space is for everyone’: Europe’s Space Agency to hire first disabled astronaut

“Nothing has ever gotten in my way,” she added. “They said, ‘Well, you’re a girl, you can’t do that.’ I said, ’Guess what, doesn’t matter what you are. You can still do it if you want to do it and I like to do things that nobody has ever done.”

She’ll beat the late John Glenn, who set a report at age 77 when flying aboard house shuttle Discovery in 1998. Glenn pooh-poohed the thought of girls flying in house, shortly after he grew to become the primary American to orbit the world in 1962.

“No one has waited longer,” Bezos mentioned by way of Instagram. “It’s time. Welcome to the crew, Wally.”

Flights by Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin final about 10 minutes, with three or so minutes of weightlessness. (Photo: Virgin Galactic)

Bezos is stepping down as Amazon’s CEO on Monday.

Blue Origin has yet to announce ticket prices or when the general public may strap into the spacious six-seat capsule. Its New Shepard rocket is called for Alan Shepard, the primary American in house.

Virgin Galactic has greater than 600 reservations within the pipeline. These authentic tickets went for $250,000. The firm will begin accepting extra following the upcoming flight with Branson. Keen to get to house, Funk reserved a seat years in the past.

Virgin Galactic plans three extra take a look at flights earlier than taking on clients, Branson was initially supposed to be on the second demo developing, however moved it up in an obvious bid to outdo Bezos. He mentioned Wednesday, after his different firm Virgin Orbit launched a batch of satellites, that it’s necessary for his clients to see him experience his rocket ship first, earlier than they climb on board.

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