Richard Branson is the latest billionaire to appear in the space tourism scene, following in Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos’ footsteps. Branson’s Virgin Galactic sent four people some 250,000 feet above the Earth on Thursday, per Daily Mail. The Galactic01 is set to be crewed by the Italian Air Force.
California-based Virgin Galactic has taken a different approach than Musk and Bezos in the method, choosing to use a plane that is attached to a large carrier that releases at a certain altitude. Branson experienced a horrific space launch in 2014, when his company’s SpaceShipTwo crashed in California’s Mojave Desert, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury and injuring pilot Peter Siebold.
Branson’s manned test suddenly failed when the craft split into pieces. After investigators looked into the cause of the crash, they determined that Alsbury had unlocked a braking system too early, which led to a structural failure.
However, Branson became the first billionaire in space when he took the VSS Unity on July 11, 2021. It was not long after that Bezos, aboard the New Sheperd, launched into space later that same month. Musk is the only one of the three who has not traveled to space yet.
Musk started SpaceX in 2002, launching the Falcon 1 in 2006 and then the first Falcon 9 in 2010. But it was not until 2020 that the company sent its first manned flight to space aboard the Falcon 9 rocket.
Bezos’ Blue Origin was founded two years earlier in 2000, following a childhood dream of operating in space. In a 1982 Miami Herald interview, then-18-year-old Bezos said that he wished to “build space hotels, amusement parks and colonies for two or three million people who would be in orbit.”
“The whole idea is to preserve the earth … The goal was to be able to evacuate humans. The planet would become a park.”It was not until 2004 that Branson founded Virgin Galactic.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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