Sunday 8/1/21
'BILLIONAIRES SPACE RACE'

Billionaire Branson touches space in Virgin craft

The successful flight means Branson beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos into space by nine days
FILED - Spacecraft VSS Unity. British entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spacecraft VSS Unity reached space on Sunday with the billionaire and a crew of five on board, in another milestone for commercial space travel. Photo: ---/Virgin Galactic/dpa - ATTENTION: editorial use only and only if the credit mentioned above is referenced in full
British entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spacecraft VSS Unity reached space on Sunday. Photo: Virgin Galactic/dpa.

British entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spacecraft VSS Unity reached space on Sunday with the billionaire and a crew of five on board, in another milestone for commercial space travel.

After a 90-minute, weather-related delay, the craft took off from a base in New Mexico attached to a carrier aeroplane, before detaching at an altitude of about 15 kilometres.

The Unity fired its boosters, shooting almost vertically up to a height of over 80 kilometres above the Earth.

The live broadcast event saw the astronauts briefly experience weightlessness before the craft flew back down to Earth.

"Welcome to the dawn of a new space age," Branson tweeted with a picture of the crew floating in the cabin.

After a safe landing, Branson and his fellow travellers greeting friends and family at the Spaceport America in the south-western US state.

Bezos, Musk

The successful flight means Branson beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos into space by nine days.

The goal of Branson, but also of Amazon founder Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, is to enter the space tourism business.

Bezos wants to fly more than 100 kilometres above the Earth with his Blue Origin rocket on July 20.

Branson tweeted a picture of him and Musk together on Sunday morning, and Musk attended the launch. Bezos ahead of the launch wished Branson "best of luck" for a "successful and safe flight."

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