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Branson aims to make space trip on July 11, ahead of Bezos

Stock Markets Jul 02, 2021 04:30AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sir Richard Branson stands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) ahead of Virgin Galactic (SPCE) trading in New York, U.S., October 28, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
 
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By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson will travel to the edge of space on Virgin Galactic Holdings (NYSE:SPCE) Inc's test flight on July 11, Branson's space tourism firm said on Thursday, beating out fellow aspiring billionaire astronaut Jeff Bezos.

A successful flight by Branson aboard Virgin's VSS Unity spaceplane would mark 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 Earth's atmosphere ahead of Bezos, the founder of rival space tourism venture Blue Origin.

Bezos, who founded retail giant Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN), is slated to fly to space on July 20 along with his brother, Mark, trailblazing female pilot Wally Funk and a so-far unidentified person who plunked down $28 million to join the suborbital joyride.

Reuters reported last month that Branson was considering a show-stealing mission just days ahead of Bezos' planned trip.

The race, which also includes SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk, is underpinned by optimism that space travel will become mainstream as nascent technology is proven and costs fall, fueling what UBS estimates could be a $3 billion annual tourism market by 2030. Musk has not set a date for his space flight.

"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 accompanying Virgin's announcement.

Branson's July 11 mission will be the twenty-second flight test for VSS Unity, and the company's fourth crewed spaceflight, Virgin said.

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

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

Branson aims to make space trip on July 11, ahead of Bezos
 

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Comments (5)
Todd Holaday
JustWilliam Jul 02, 2021 5:02AM ET
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While we are all preached at by politicians and ceo’s to reduce our carbon footprint, they race to space on joy rides, fly around the world and have multiple homes. Hypocrysy at its worst.
Samuel Hong
Samuel Hong Jul 02, 2021 2:08AM ET
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I like to watch on the TV in my chair.
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Jul 02, 2021 12:50AM ET
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Not everyone can handle 3-4gs. The Soyuz in 2008 experienced 8g off course. Only well train pilots can handle that 8- 9g
YC Teng
YC Teng Jul 01, 2021 11:11PM ET
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Continue to push boundaries and open up a new frontier 🎉🎉🎉
Corey DeLaplain
SniperSam Jul 01, 2021 10:49PM ET
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A waste of money for even those who can afford to waste money. Glad I've been a grounded person my entire life.
 
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