BILLIONAIRE SIR Richard Branson has made history at the weekend after successfully reaching space in his commercial Virgin Galactic spaceplane.
A video clip shows the 70-year-old floating around in zero gravity on passenger rocket plane VSS Unity.A weightless Sir Richard in the spacecraft[/caption] Branson floated around for a few minutes with his crew[/caption]
Ex Amazon CEO and Blue Origin chief Bezos is planning his own space flight later this month.
Branson has declared his flight “the dawn of a new space age”.
The British entrepreneur described the hour-long space flight as “the experience of a lifetime” and “more magical than I had ever imagined”.
He added: “How you feel when you look down on Earth is impossible to put into words, it’s just indescribable beauty. I can’t wait for you all to get up there.”
He congratulated his “wonderful” team for their “17 years of hard, hard work to get us this far”.
Sir Richard later tweeted: “Welcome to the dawn of a new space age #Unity22.”
‘EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME’
He and his crew reached heights of 53 miles during yesterday’s mission to the edge of space.
They completed a runway landing just 20 minutes after the craft detached and were greeted with cheers and hugs.
A tropical storm delayed his lift-off from the New Mexico desert but things went smoothly after that.
During the trip, Sir Richard experienced weightlessness for several minutes before re-entering the earth’s atmosphere.
Sir Richard was seen striding out in his blue spacesuit on Sunday with three other Virgin execs and their two pilots – including British ex-RAF airman Dave Mackay.
Branson – known as ‘Astronaut 001’ – then clambered aboard Virgin Space Ship Unity, a 62ft rocket-powered space plane nestled between the twin hulls of Mother Ship Eve.
The VSS Unity soared to 50,000ft, led by a specially designed massive mothership, known as Eve, or WhiteKnightTwo.
After detaching from the spaceship, Unity fired up its hybrid rocket engine and soared into space.
Eve had taken off along a 2.4mile runway before VSS Unity detached and ignited its engine.
Hitting speeds of up to 2,300 miles per hour – three-and-a-half times the speed of sound – it blasted to an altitude of 50-odd miles, or the edge of space.
Although there is debate over what qualifies as space, with Amazon boss Jeff Bezos believing its threshold stands at 62 miles above earth.
Elon Musk tweeted about Branson’s flight and offered his congratulations.
The SpaceX CEO said: “Congratulations, beautiful flight!”
Sir Richard plans to offer tickets to the public for $250,000 (£180,000), with commercial services starting in 2022.Branson remained in his seat for longer than the rest of his crew[/caption] The billionaire laughed as he floated in weightless space[/caption]
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In other space news, scientists have identified the place where aliens are most likely lurking in the Milky Way.
Aliens may have dropped life-detecting sensors onto Earth, according to a Harvard University professor.
And, China launched three astronauts into orbit to continue building its own space station.
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