Branson congratulates the crew on board Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity after their ascent on Sunday. Reuters
Brash, pioneering Brit Sir Richard Branson finally made history on Sunday, by reaching the edge of space with his Virgin crew and returning safely back to Earth.
He is the first business baron to make the journey to space in a rocket ship, VSS Unity, built by the firm he founded.After facing initial hiccups over the weather, Branson's space vehicle took off from the New Mexico desert on Sunday. He hopes the trip will give a solid fillip to space tourism.
Hollywood stars were among those who lapped up the 600 tickets sold to potential space tourists from 60 nations for prices hitting a cool quarter of a million dollars. The plane was scheduled to ascend for an hour to reach an altitude of 50,000 feet.
The unconventional Branson biked to the base and met his employees.
Among those in the crew are Indian American Sirisha Bandla, the vice president of government affairs at the company.
Branson is the daredevil persona who has been there done that. He has traversed oceans in sailboats and hot-air balloons. He even co-founded Virgin Records, much to the delight of music fans.
Not many know that he sold records in the classified pages of a student magazine 50 years ago.
Branson is perhaps trying to upstage the other billionaire B, Jeff Bezos, better known as the Amazon baron. Bezos is gearing up to fly on his rocket ship, the New Shepard, later this month.
Branson, a week away from his 71st birthday, insists he and Bezos are friends and not rivals trying games of one-upmanship in space.
This is not to forget Tesla founder Elon Musk, whose SpaceX plans to send its first all-civilian crew (without him) into orbit in September.
The sparkling white spaceplane, VSS Unity, was scheduled to take off at around 1300 GMT on Sunday attached to the underside of the twin-fuselage carrier jet VMS Eve, named after Branson's mother.
With the flight, Branson seeks to usher in a new era in space tourism, eyeing commercial operations next year.The space tourism market, according to one reckoning by a bank, is slated for hitting $3 billion annually by 2030.
My dream when I was about six was to be a late-night, long-distance lorry driver. It wasn’t so much that I liked the idea of lorries or driving, but that I had seen the Yorkie adverts and I liked the idea of chocolate. Often after a gig, I’ll drive home
This is with reference to the news “Diehard optimist Branson pulls off incredible feat,” (July 14). Well, we wish these types of news are different. Why can’t the three billionaires – Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk compete to be the first to eradicate homelessness,
As famous for his thrill-seeking lifestyle and publicity stunts as for his vast business empire, Richard Branson has set his sights on the stars as he prepares for liftoff on his first space flight.
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