Richard Branson aims to fly into space before Jeff Bezos, Virgin Galactic confirms

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Space travel company Virgin Galactic will fly its founder Richard Branson on the next test flight, scheduled for July 11, the company confirmed on Thursday. Branson’s new flight date comes before rival Jeff Bezos is expected to fly in own space travel rocket on July 20th, which sets the stage for the most part as a symbolic exhibition between two billionaires competing to strengthen their space travel rockets.

70-year-old Branson was not set to fly Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spare aircraft for two more tests – until Thursday, when the company announced it would fly on July 11 “testing a private astronaut experience” alongside four mission experts and two pilots. “I’ve always been a dreamer” Branson’s tweet after the announcement. “My mother taught me to never give up and seek the stars. On July 11, it’s time to turn that dream into reality on your next Virgin Galactic cargo flight. “

The task, called Unity 22, marks the test flight of Virgin Galactic’s fourth crew, VSS Unity, a spacecraft that departs from the center plate of the carrier and rises toward the edge of space to give passengers a few minutes of weightlessness. It is “the first to carry a full crew of two pilots and four mission experts in the cabin, including company founder Sir Richard Branson, who will test the private astronaut experience,” the company said in a statement.

Designed to carry up to six passengers and two pilots, the Unity has been tested 22 times latest test At Virgin Galactic’s luxurious American Spaceport base in New Mexico. Three other flights, including Branson flights, are still this year before Virgin Galactic completes its first revenue-generating mission for the Italian Air Force. The company has about 600 reservations for paying customers for upcoming space flights, and each ticket costs about $ 250,000.

Branson tweeted in his video bullying the extra announcement after the July 11 flight. “When we return, I’ll announce something very exciting to allow more people to become astronauts because space belongs to all of us,” he said. “So look at this space.”

Blue Origin announced last month that its founder Bezos is on his first crew mission in New Shepard, a suborbital rocket designed to send passengers to the same altitude as VSS Unity due to a few minutes of weightlessness. This rocket launches vertically from the company’s remote space station in Van Horn, Texas. The new Shepard has flown 15 times without a crew on board, and the latest unscrewed flight served as an astronaut exercise.

Virgin Galactic’s announcement comes on the same day that Blue Origin announced fourth crew member for the crew’s first flight to New Shepard – Wally Funk, a legendary pilot who also holds a ticket to Virginia’s VSS Unity. Bezos, his brother Mark, and the winner of the $ 28 million auction for the New Shepard seat are also on board on July 20th. Unlike Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin has not yet announced the price of tickets for upcoming New Shepard flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration granted Virgin Galactic approval to space customers last week as a change to the company’s commercial space transportation operator license, marking the FAA’s first-time license line for customer flying. Blue Origin does not yet have the same FAA approval to fly customers before the July 20 flight with Bezos, but a person familiar with the process says it is close to securing it.

The space blogger Parabolic Arc was first announce Branson flight on an accelerated schedule. Representatives of Virgin Galactic had not confirmed or denied the report until Thursday. A company spokesman said Branson’s July 11 flight depended on “technical inspections and, of course, the weather.”

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