On 11th July 2021, British Billionaire, Philanthropist, Business Tycoon Richard Branson wrote a new chapter in the space age by becoming the first billionaire to fly into space after Historic Space Flight on board a Virgin Galactic spacecraft called ‘VSS Unity’ from New Mexico in the US.
- The space baron made the flight aboard his rocket venture, Virgin Galactic, nine days before Amazon founder Jeff Bezos makes his own trip to the fringes of outer space.
- The Business Tycoon was accompanied in space by the vehicle’s two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, and three Galactic employees – Beth Moses, Colin Bennett, and Sirisha Bandla.
- Along with Branson, Aeronautical engineer Sirisha Bandla also created history on Sunday.
Note: Bandla became the third Indian-origin woman to fly into space on Sunday Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed suborbital test flight from New Mexico. She currently holds the position of Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations at Virgin Galatic.
About the space flight:
- VSS Unity space plane was hauled aloft by a carrier aircraft up to a height of 45000 feet or 13,700 meters where it detached from it. Thereafter, the space plane’s rocket engine came to life helping the team ascend to about 290,000 feet or a peak altitude of around 53 miles (85 kilometers), beyond the boundary of space.
- The 1.5-hour flight allowed the passengers to experience a few minutes of weightlessness while admiring the curvature of Earth from the ship’s 17 windows.
- The 6-member crew aboard the VSS unity spent around an hour in space before returning back to earth.
About Virgin Galactic:
Virgin Galactic is a British-American spaceflight company that operates in the United States. It was founded by Richard Branson and his Virgin Group retains a 24% stake.
It is developing commercial spacecraft and aims to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists.
The race towards Space Tourism:
- Billionaires of the 21st Century are in a race to gain an advantage in the niche Space Tourism market.
- Both companies i.e. Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Bezos’s Blue One, visualize businesses catering to wealthy tourists who are willing to pay for a short period of weightlessness and an unforgettable view of the Earth and heavens.
- As per media reports, Tesla Founder Elon Musk, the owner of SpaceX also plans to launch commercial operations as part of his space venture soon.