Multimillion Space Race: Branson intends to take a trip ahead of Bezos | Space News

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Branson’s mission on July 11 will be VSS Unity’s 22nd flight test and the company’s fourth manned space flight.

Billionaire businessman Richard Branson will travel to the edge of space on the test flight of Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. on July 11, Branson’s space tourism firm said Thursday, beating the billionaire and aspiring fellow astronaut Jeff Bezos.

A successful Branson flight aboard Virgin’s VSS Unity spacecraft would be a key milestone in a race to usher in a new era of private commercial space travel.

It would also mean that Branson would travel beyond the Earth’s atmosphere ahead of Bezos, the founder of rival space tourism company Blue Origin.

Bezos, who founded retail giant Amazon.com Inc., plans to fly into space on July 20 along with his brother, Mark, a female pilot, Wally Funk, and a hitherto unidentified person who fell 28 millions of dollars to join the suborbital joyride.

Reuters reported last month that Branson was planning a robbery mission just days before Bezos’ planned trip.

The race, which also includes SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, is based on optimism that space travel will become dominant as nascent technology is demonstrated and costs fall, fueling what UBS estimates could be. an annual tourism market of $ 3 billion by 2030. Musk has not set an appointment for his space flight.

“Virgin Galactic is at the forefront of a new commercial space industry, which is destined to open up space for humanity and change the world for good,” Branson said in a statement accompanying Virgin’s announcement.

Branson’s mission on July 11 will be VSS Unity’s 22nd flight test and the company’s fourth manned space flight, Virgin said.

But it will be the first to feature a full crew of two pilots and four “mission specialists,” including Branson.

Two additional test flights are planned before Virgin plans to start commercial service in 2022, Virgin said.





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