British billionaire Richard Branson beat his rival Jeff Bezos on Thursday and announced that he too will take a trip into space – nine days before Amazon’s founder.
Virgin Galactic Branson has announced that it will be a “mission specialist” aboard SpaceShipTwo Unity, which will launch on July 11, “pending meteorological and technical inspections”.
If the schedule is met, Branson will reach space before Bezos, who said he will go into space on his company Blue Origin’s New Shepard launcher on July 20.
The two billionaires set up competing companies to take tourists to suborbital space on short flights.
Branson “will value the personal experience of astronauts and will undergo the same training, preparation, and flight as future Virgin Galactic astronauts.
“The company will use its flight training and observational space experience to enhance travel for all future astronaut customers,” said Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft is not a classic rocket, but a transport plane that reaches incredible heights and drops a smaller spacecraft, VSS Unity, which fires up its engines and reaches suborbital space and then glides back to Earth.
“After more than 16 years of research, development, and testing, Virgin Galactic is at the forefront of a new commercial space industry that will open space for mankind.”