BREAKING NEWS: Battle of the billionaires! Richard Branson announces he will head into space on Virgin Galactic’s July 11 test flight as Astronaut 001 – beating Jeff Bezos’ trip on his Blue Origin spacecraft by nine days

  • Billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson is set for his first space flight with Virgin Galactic
  • The company’s owner is due to test the ‘private astronaut experience’ during the next test flight window, beginning on July 11
  • Branson said he is ‘honoured’ to be able to help ‘ensure his business delivers a unique customer experience’

Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson is planning to beat Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos into space by nine days after announcing plans to be Astronaut 001 on the firm’s July 11 test flight. 

Bezos had already announced in June that he would be heading to space on July 20 alongside his brother on Blue Origin’s New Shepherd spacecraft, but Branson now appears to have him beat by nine days.

‘After more than 16 years of research, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands at the vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to open space to humankind and change the world for good,’ Branson said in a statement.

Richard Branson will be heading to space on a July 11 Virgin Galactic spaceflight

Virgin Galactic´s Richard Branson is planning to beat Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos being the first to blast off into space on their July 11 flight. Branson is pictured in 2019

‘I’m honoured to help validate the journey our future astronauts will undertake and ensure we deliver the unique customer experience people expect from Virgin. 

It will be Virgin Galactic’s fourth test spaceflight and the first mission with a crew of four on board.

Branson will be taking off alongside Chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor who flew to space on the company’s second spaceflight mission. 

Colin Bennett, the company’s lead operations engineer, will also join the flight. He will be Astronaut 003.

Sirisha Bandla, Virgin Galactic’s vice president of government affairs and research operations will also be on board as Astronaut 004. 

Bezos had already announced in June that he would be heading to space on July 20 alongside his brother on Blue Origin’s New Shepherd spacecraft, but Branson now appears to have him beat by nine days

Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor, who flew to space on the company’s second spaceflight mission will be on board

Colin Bennett, the company’s lead operations engineer, will also join the flight

Sirisha Bandla, Virgin Galactic’s vice president of government affairs and research operations

Dave Mackay will be piloting the Virgin Galactic spacecraft

Virgin Galactic plans three more test flights to the edge of space this summer and early fall, before launching with customers. 

The company had originally put Branson on the second upcoming flight, but has now moved him up to the next one in order to beat Bezos blasting off. 

Branson acknowledged it’s ‘very important’ for potential customers to see him strap in for a ride, before opening the doors to the paying public.

The thrill-seeking adventurer, who turns 71 in a few weeks, said he’s ‘not apprehensive at all’ about launching into space.

‘It’s a dream of a lifetime,’ he said. 

Last week, Virgin Galactic got the Federal Aviation Administration’s OK to start launching customers 

Last week, Virgin Galactic got the Federal Aviation Administration’s OK to start launching customers. 

More than 600 people already have reserved a ride to space. Tickets initially cost $250,000, but the price is expected to go up once the company starts accepting reservations again.

Virgin Galactic made its third flight to space in May, with two pilots in the cockpit of the winged spaceship. 

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is targeting July 20 for his rocket company’s first launch with people. The Blue Origin flight from West Texas will include Bezos, his brother, a charity auction winner who’s shelling out $28 million and a fourth unidentified person.

Unlike Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are looking to send space tourists on brief up-and-down hops – not into orbit around the world.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is targeting July 20 for his rocket company’s first launch with people

Source: Read Full Article