The battle of the billionaires in space is gaining momentum: Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Galactic, announced during the night (Thursday-Friday) that he will be taking part in the upcoming test flight of the Unity spacecraft on July 11, thus nine days ahead of Jeff Bezos who is scheduled to take off with New Shepherd at 20 July.
Branson’s company announced that the manned launch of the spacecraft is possible following the permission given to them by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to fly with passengers, following the successful test flight last May. On board the “Unity” are expected to be six people – a full crew that includes two pilots and four passengers.
As mentioned, the mother ship Yves, with pilots CJ Sartkov and Kelly Latimer, will take off from the base in New Mexico and carry Unity to a height of about 44,000 feet, before releasing it with the spacecraft, which will have pilots Dave McKay and Michael Mesuki. Alongside them are expected to be on board – Branson and three other Virgin Galactic crew members – Beth Moses, Colin Bennett, Sirisha Bandela. They will take off to the edge of the space at an altitude of 88 km and after a few minutes of hovering without gravity, the spacecraft will return to landing.
The company statement said Branson’s flight goal is to “test the experience of a private astronaut,” and he will also undergo the training and preparations of future Virgin Galactic astronauts. “The company will use its observations from its training and in-flight experience to tighten the journey for all future customers,” it said.
Branson, who will mark his 71st birthday a week after the flight, made no secret of his excitement. “I was always dreaming. My mother taught me not to give up and get to the stars,” he tweeted, “on July 11, it’s time to make that dream a reality.” He added that “I truly believe that space belongs to all of us. After 17 years of research, engineering and innovation, the new commercial space industry is ready to open the universe to humanity and change the world for the better.”
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 spaceflight https://t.co/x0ksfnuEQ3 #Unity22 pic.twitter.com/GWskcMSXyA
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 1, 2021
Branson will be nine days ahead of one of his rivals in the private space race, Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world and founder of Amazon and Blue Origin. Bezos will take off on July 20 on the first manned flight of New Shepherd – consisting of a rocket and a capsule – which will reach a height of about 100 km. Along with him will be two pilots, his brother Mark Bezos, an anonymous who rode a ticket for $ 28 million and Valley Punk (82 ), To be the oldest person to ever fly into space.
Punk was a member of NASA’s Mercury 13 team 60 years ago. The team included 13 women who were supposed to become astronauts and were fully trained, but the program closed and Punk has not yet fulfilled her dream. “It’s just wonderful to have the opportunity to fly into space. I love every second of it, can hardly wait! “, She said in a video shared on Bezos’ Instagram account.
“Nothing stopped me on the way,” she added, “they said, ‘Well, you could not do it.’ Made”.