Virgin Galactic: Billionaire Richard Branson, founder of the space exploration company Virgin Galactic, successfully participated in a tourist trip from a spaceship owned by the company. The flight took place last Sunday (11) and marked the company’s first with a full human crew.
With the trip, Branson “beats” fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin, who will take a similar trip on July 20th.
For a few minutes, passengers are in so-called microgravity — a time when the Earth’s gravitational pull is reduced and the crew can “float” on the ship. The full broadcast of the mission can be seen on the company’s YouTube channel.
“I have dreamed of this moment since I was a child, but nothing could have prepared me for the view of Earth from space. We are at the forefront of a new space age. as part of this incredible team of mission experts and now astronauts. I can’t wait to share this experience with aspiring astronauts around the world,” says the businessman.
In flight, the spacecraft reached a height of 86 km — below the “beginning of space” by measurements such as the Kárman line, which recognizes the border at an altitude of 100 km, but above the 80 km recognized by the US government .
However, the launch mode is different from that operated by companies such as Blue Origin and SpaceX: Unity takes off from an aircraft carrier, the VMS Eve, and only after a certain altitude it starts its own engines and makes the rest of the journey alone.
The VSS Unity mission served not only as a high-profile action, but also to prove the viability of the company’s rockets for suborbital travel with interested tourists.
Branson himself says he took several notes throughout the tour to make minor changes to the service before the tourist launch. For now, the company has not released a schedule for new missions.