During the sixties of the twentieth century, the United States and the USSR staged a space race between the two powers to settle geopolitical power, unbalance the balance in the Cold War and go down in history. Six decades later, two tycoons star in a new, much more personal space race: being the first businessman to be transported beyond the Earth’s atmosphere with his own ship. Richard Branson, of Virgin Galactic, announced this Friday that he is advancing his first manned launch to July 11, in nine days, to take the lead against Jeff Bezos, of Blue Origin, who has his flight scheduled for July 20 .
Branson, who will fly alongside three company employees and two pilots, will rise into the space as a customer experience evaluator. Both the flight of the English founder of the Virgin group and that of Bezos are suborbital trips, in which the passage does not go around the Earth, with a minimum experience of four minutes of weightlessness. However, the commercial tourist who will accompany Bezos has paid almost 24 million euros for his seat on the rocket New Shepard.
Branson, who will fly alongside three company employees and two pilots, will rise to the space as a customer experience evaluator
This same Thursday, Bezos had given another blow to effect in this commercial and personal battle between the two tycoons. The billionaire founder of Amazon announced that together with him, his brother and the wealthy tourist, will travel the pioneer of astronautics Wally Funk, an aviator who passed the tests in 1961, but was left on the ground due to the machismo of the authorities. It is no coincidence that Funk, who never gave up his dream of flying into space, paid $ 200,000 to Virgin, Branson’s company, a decade ago for a ticket on what would have been his first commercial flight (which was never carried out). ). In this way, Bezos gave his rival a nun’s pinch. A few hours later, Branson kicks him back in the shins by precipitating a preview of his trip.
A few days ago, in an interview, Branson was asked if he intended to overtake Jeff Bezos. The Virgin boss replied with a laugh, “Jeff what?” It’s a statement, the magnate has assured: “I really believe that space belongs to all of us.”
From Virgin Galactic they deny that it is hasty and assure that the last test that its SpaceShipTwo model carried out in May was so immaculate that they can now afford to test the experience in the cockpit. The aircraft, christened Unity, will be transported under a plane called White Knight Two at an altitude of about 15,000 meters, where Unity will start their engines. From there it will fly up to 80 kilometers above sea level, where the US government signals the beginning of space. The Unity It has already surpassed that barrier three times in testing. Other standards indicate that limit at 100 kilometers, which Bezos does intend to exceed.
Although Branson has been planning his trip to space for decades, in recent years two new actors with the same profile have burst onto the scene of the aerospace industry: Bezos, with his Blue Origin, and the billionaire Elon Musk, with SpaceX, which has revolutionized astronaut transport by greatly reducing costs with its reusable rockets.