The British billionaire Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Galactic, made history today (Sunday), when he took off at 17:30 (Israel time) into space and stayed there for about an hour. Branson, 71, known as Astronaut 001, said: “It’s a dream of my life.
“A lifelong experience,” Branson said on his way to the landing. When the mother ship reached an altitude of about 44,000 feet, it released Unity, which flew at three times the speed of sound to the edge of space at a height of 88 km. Who returned to land while surfing at an American base.
“What a day, what a day, what a day,” Branson said excitedly at the ceremony where he and his colleagues received the official astronaut pin. “I’ve been dreaming of the moment since I was a kid, but nothing prepares you for a look from space.”
Branson added that “we are here to make the flight accessible to all” and announced that Virgin Galactic and fundraising company Omise will hold a two-seat lottery in September on a future space flight. “Welcome to the dawn of a new space age,” he declared.
Branson’s flight is the upcoming test flight of the Unity spacecraft. On board the “Unity” are six people – a full crew that includes two pilots and four passengers.
As mentioned, the mother ship Yves, named after Branson, with pilots CJ Sartkov and Kelly Latimer, took off from the base in New Mexico and carried Unity to a height of about 44,000 feet, before releasing it with the spacecraft, which will be the pilots Dave McKay and Michael Helicopters. Alongside them on board – Branson and three other Virgin Galactic crew members – Beth Moses, Colin Bennett, Sirisha Bandela. They took off to the edge of the space at an altitude of 88 km and after about four minutes of hovering without gravity, the spacecraft would return to landing. The entire journey would last about an hour.
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 his observations from his training and in-flight experience to tighten up the journey for all future customers,” it said.
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 an altitude of about 100 km. ), To be the oldest person to ever fly into space.