Start of space tourism: billionaire Branson lands after space flight

Start for space tourism
Billionaire Branson lands after space flight

Billionaire Branson takes off with his crew for space without any problems. The 70-year-old flies with the “VSS Unity” to an altitude of over 80 kilometers and lands again a few moments later. It is the starting shot for a lucrative future business.

The British billionaire Richard Branson flew into space with his spaceship before Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and landed safely back on earth. According to Branson’s company Virgin Galactic, the “VSS Unity” rose to an altitude of more than 80 kilometers after taking off in the US state of New Mexico. After a few minutes, in which the astronauts experienced weightlessness, the spaceship started to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere and finally landed again at the commercial spaceport Spaceport America after a flight of around an hour. Branson congratulated his company on the approach and called the experience “wonderful”.

Branson was clearly enjoying his outing.

(Photo: via REUTERS)

The 70-year-old left with two astronauts and three astronauts. The spaceship was first brought under a mother plane to an altitude of about 14 kilometers and then set down. Then the engine ignited and accelerated the spacecraft during a steep ascent, according to the information to more than three times the speed of sound, which corresponds to more than 3700 kilometers per hour. TV footage showed the sky turning from blue to black as Branson and his crew left the atmosphere.

The goal of Branson – and also of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla boss Elon Musk – is to get into the space tourism business. But Branson’s All-Trip is also a successful PR coup against his competitor Bezos: The richest man in the world had advertised his flight into space on July 20 at great expense in the past few weeks – then Branson came and announced that he was nine Days early. The live coverage of the flight by Virgin Galactic gave the impression of a promotional event.

However, it is debatable among experts whether Branson, who made a fortune in the music and aviation industries with his conglomerate Virgin Group, was actually in space: The International Aviation Association (FAI) and many other experts see 100 kilometers above the earth as Border to space, but there are no binding international regulations. For example, soldiers in the US Air Force received the designation astronaut, even though they had only flown to an altitude of 50 miles (80.5 kilometers). For comparison: the international space station ISS is about 400 kilometers above the earth’s surface.

Competitors wish “successful flight”

The 18-meter-long “VSS Unity” spaceplane offers space for two pilots and six passengers, and from 2022 it is expected to take tourists into space. The wealthy adventurer Branson is by no means the first tourist in weightlessness, but he wants to make commercial space flights socially acceptable with Virgin Galactic – just like Bezos and Musk.

The billionaires deny a personal rivalry. Bezos wished Branson “a successful and safe flight”. Musk even came to the departure ceremony as a guest. The two can be seen on a Twitter photo that Branson commented: “A great day lies ahead. Great to start the morning with a friend. I feel good, excited, ready.”

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space company, announced a manned flight with the New Shepard rocket back in May. The 57-year-old wants to take his brother and an 82-year-old former US pilot on their maiden flight into space on July 20. Another seat was auctioned a few weeks ago for 28 million US dollars to a previously unknown person.

Industry experts at the major Swiss bank UBS expect a market of three billion dollars a year to develop by the end of the decade. Wealthy people from all over the world have already placed themselves on the suppliers’ waiting lists in order to get hold of flight tickets at a price of around $ 250,000 each.