First modification: 07/11/2021 – 20:00
History will recall that British magnate Richard Branson was the first person to go into space with his own ship. He has done so by overtaking rivals Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin and Amazon, who hopes to travel even further on July 20, and also Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, who has already brought capsules to the International Space Station. A multimillionaire race, which begins the ever-closer space tourism.
Virgin Galactic comes forward. British billionaire Richard Branson is already the first person in the world to go into space with his own ship. He did it this Sunday, accompanied by five crewmates.
The members of the VSS Unity left from Truth or Consequences, in the desert of New Mexico, in the United States, in a plane that carried the rocket. At 13 kilometers, during the first flight stage, the space plane separated from the spacecraft and started its engine, reaching three times the speed of sound and reaching an altitude of 88 kilometers, from which they enjoyed about four minutes of weightlessness. , being able to observe the curvature of the Earth.
The landing took place an hour after takeoff and had more than 500 guests, who celebrated what is already considered a milestone in the history of aeronautics. The event was master of ceremonies by comedian Stephen Colbert and featured a concert by R&B artist Khalid.
“Seventeen years of hard work to get this far,” Branson said as he congratulated his team after returning from the space expedition. On Twitter he winked at his childhood: “I’ve dreamed of this moment since I was a child, but going into space was more magical than I ever imagined.”
17 years since the founding of Virgin Galactic
The VSS Unity passenger rocket was Virgin Galactic’s 22nd test flight; It is the fourth manned mission beyond Earth’s atmosphere and the first trip to carry a full crew: with two pilots and four “mission specialists”. Branson is also the second person in history, over the age of 70, to reach space.
The company already has more than 600 space tourist reservations, with a travel cost of $ 250,000. But first, Virgin expects to do two test flights in the coming months, before starting commercial operation in 2022.
The goal is to achieve the highest possible security. A road that has not been without accidents for Virgin Galactic: In 2007, in a rocket engine test in California’s Mojave Desert, three workers were killed. Then, in 2014, a rocket plane crashed during a test flight, leaving one pilot dead and another seriously injured.
Risk, which has always attracted Branson, who has kitesurfed in the English Channel and tried to go around the world in a hot air balloon. The mogul owns all kinds of businesses ranging from airlines to music companies and has always tried to achieve new feats. Virgin Galactic was founded in 2004, and 17 years later, it is ready to take tourists into space.
A career of aeronautical billionaires
Among the attendees was Chris Ferguson, the last commander of the NASA shuttle, who highlighted for the Associated Press the importance of what happened: “This is really like the irruption of commercial air travel, only 100 years later.”
Branson has been ahead, but behind is also another billionaire, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon. With his New Shepard spacecraft, he had announced that he will travel on July 20, from Texas, to commemorate the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.
Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, who planned to fly in late summer, said the advancement on his historic flight had nothing to do with surpassing Bezos. Meanwhile, Bezos congratulated his space rival and said he couldn’t wait “to join the club.”
However, from Bezos’s company, Blue Origin, they have been claiming that their flight is really space, since they will exceed 100 kilometers in height, at which point the Kármán line, known as the threshold of space, is exceeded.
“New Shepard was designed to fly above the Kármán line, so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name,” Blue Origin said on Twitter on Friday.
From the beginning, New Shepard was designed to fly above the Kármán line so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name. For 96% of the world’s population, space begins 100 km up at the internationally recognized Kármán line. pic.twitter.com/QRoufBIrUJ
– Blue Origin (@blueorigin) July 9, 2021
However, NASA, the Air Force, the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States and some astrophysicists consider that the limit starts from 80 kilometers.
For his part, there is also a third rival, Elon Musk, from SpaceX, who was present at the launch and sent a message of support through Twitter: “God of Speed!”
Musk hopes to send an all-civilian first crew into orbit in September, having managed to send astronauts to the International Space Station. Its tourist capsules will seek to enter orbit around the Earth, with seats that will cost millions of dollars. However, the tycoon, also a founder of Tesla, does not expect to fly anytime soon.
With AP and Reuters