Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson flying own rocket to space

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (AP) — After a lifetime of craving to fly in area, Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson was poised to blast off aboard his personal rocket ship Sunday in his boldest, grandest journey but.

The joys-seeking billionaire joined 5 firm staff additionally assigned to the take a look at flight to the sting of area excessive above the southern desert of New Mexico.

Ever the showman, Branson dramatically counted down the times to liftoff through Twitter. He considered the temporary up-and-down journey as a confidence builder — not just for the 600-plus folks already holding reservations and ready within the wings, however potential area vacationers prepared to plunk down a couple of hundred-thousand {dollars} for a shot at area.

The London-born founding father of the Virgin Group, who turns 71 in every week, wasn’t presupposed to fly till later this summer time. However he assigned himself to an earlier flight after Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos introduced plans to journey his personal rocket into area from West Texas on July 20.

Virgin Galactic would not count on to start out flying prospects earlier than subsequent 12 months. Blue Origin has but to open ticket gross sales and even announce costs, however late final week boasted through Twitter that it could take purchasers increased and supply larger home windows.

Not like Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which launch capsules atop reusable booster rockets, Virgin Galactic makes use of a twin-fuselage plane to get its rocket ship aloft. The area airplane is launched from the mothership about 44,000 ft (13,400 meters) up, then fires its rocket motor to streak straight to area. Most altitude is roughly 55 miles (70 kilometers), with three to 4 minutes of weightlessness supplied.

The rocket airplane — which requires two pilots — glides to a runway touchdown at its Spaceport America base.

Virgin Galactic reached area for the primary time in 2018, repeating the feat in 2019 and once more this previous Could, every time with a minimal crew. It obtained permission from the Federal Aviation Administration final month to start out launching prospects.

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Dunn reported from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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Huynh Nguyen

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