Richard Branson Will Try To Beat Jeff Bezos In Space


wants to go on stage Jeff Bezos as the owner of the first rocket company to go into space, Richard BransonThe British billionaire who founded a galaxy of Virgin companies announced Thursday night that he will be a member of the crew on his next test flight. Virgin Galactic spaceplane.

This flight is scheduled to take off from Spaceport America in New Mexico on July 11.

“The team was ready, so they asked Richard if he was ready to go,” said Aleanna Crane, Virgin Galactic’s vice president of communications. “It’s a big day. It’s a very exciting day.”

Mr. Branson It will be in a position to claim bragging rights in a growing spaceflight business for private citizens. Virgin Galactic and Mr. BezosBlue Origin is racing to launch toll passengers on suborbital and orbital cruises in the coming years. Although the first flights will be expensive, the expectation is that ticket prices will decrease over time as the market grows.

Mr. Branson founded Virgin Galactic in 2004 to provide short space tourist flights to the edge of space and said he would be a passenger on the first commercial flight in a long time. But the development of SpaceShipTwo – a winged rocket flying to an altitude of more than 50 miles – took years longer than Mr. Branson had anticipated. Included setbacks crash of the first SpaceShipTwo aircraft, VSS Enterprise during a test flight that killed one of the two pilots in October 2014.

In 2019 Virgin Galactic became a public company, but Mr Branson’s Virgin Group remains the largest shareholder with 24 percent.

The most recent powered test flight in May was the company’s first flight from New Mexico. Previously, development and testing of the spacecraft took place in Mojave, California.

Ms. Crane said the final flight was so flawless that the crew decided to test the cabin experience. “Who better to test the full cabin experience than Richard Branson?” said. “He flies as a mission specialist and has a role like the rest of the crew.”

The ship will carry three other Virgin Galactic employees in cabin seats, in addition to the two front pilots.

“It’s one thing to have the dream of making space more accessible to everyone,” Mr Branson said in a statement. “Making this dream come true for an incredible team is another thing.”

The company plans to broadcast the flight at 9 a.m. Eastern time on July 11. The SpaceShipTwo rocket, named Unity, will be transported to an altitude of 50,000 feet before being dropped under an aircraft called White Knight Two. Unity’s engine will then fire, pushing it higher than 50 mph.

At the top of its arc, passengers will remain in the air for about four minutes before the spaceplane re-enters the atmosphere and glides onto a runway landing.

If all goes as planned, Mr. Branson will make his flight nine days before Amazon founder Mr. Bezos docked at the New Shepard capsule built by rocket company Blue Origin. New Shepard flew to the edge of space 15 times but hasn’t moved anyone yet. It is pilotless, fully automatic.

Billionaires like Mr. Branson, Mr. Bezos and Elon Musk are pioneers in a new era of commercial spaceflight, accompanied by sometimes playful, sometimes condescending verbal jousts over whose company is better.

During an appearance on CNBC on Wednesday, Mr. Branson was asked if he had tried to beat Mr. Bezos in space. “Who is Jeff?” Mr. Branson replied with a straight face before laughing.

These words echoed a promise Mr. Musk had once made. in a BBC interview.

Even if Mr. Branson launched first, Mr. Bezos can still claim that he went into space, and Mr. Branson did not. SpaceShipTwo does not quite reach the 62-mile altitude generally considered the limit of space, while New Shepard passes above this altitude, also known as the Karman line.

“We wish him a great and safe flight, but they’re not flying above the Karman line and it’s a very different experience,” said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin, in an emailed statement.

However, the United States Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration lowered the limit another 50 miles. FAA awarded astronaut wings To Virgin Galactic crew members who have flown on previous test flights.

Mr. Musk’s SpaceX builds much bigger rockets more than those currently flown by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. As SpaceX prepares to fly private citizens on orbital trips, including A flight scheduled for SeptemberMr. Musk has not yet announced when he will be able to travel. But Blue Origin and SpaceX are competing for federal contracts for projects, including launching Department of Defense satellites and building a lander to take NASA astronauts back to the moon’s surface.

So far, Mr. Musk and SpaceX have had victories over Blue Origin. Then NASA chose SpaceX alone to land on the Moon, Blue Origin protests award with the Federal Government Accountability Office. in a tweet After the protest was announced, Mr. Musk made a statement stealing the fact that Blue Origin has yet to reach orbit with any of its rockets.

Over the past few days, Mr. Musk has had a back and forth on Twitter with Tory Bruno, CEO of United Launch Alliance, one of its more traditional aviation rivals. Mr Musk said rockets made by ULA, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are too expensive and would fail without government contracts.

He also joked to Mr. Bruno that SpaceX could supply some engines to ULA for its new Vulcan rocket. Blue Origin engines will advance the first stage of Vulcan, with the first launch scheduled for next year.

Early Thursday, Blue Origin, Wally Funk, a pioneering test pilot, would fly on the first crewed New Shepard flight. Ms. Funk, 82, was among the “Mercury 13” women who successfully passed a privately funded demonstration in the 1960s that showed women could also meet NASA’s criteria for astronauts. to join Mr. Bezos; younger brother Mark; and an unidentified person who paid more than $28 million at an auction to win a seat on the flight.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *