A cosmic leap: Billionaire Branson reaches edge of space in own ship
The nearly 71-year-old Branson and five crewmates from his Virgin Galactic space tourism company reached an altitude of about 88km over the New Mexico desert.
Swashbuckling entrepreneur Richard Branson hurtled into space aboard his own winged rocket ship on Sunday in his boldest adventure yet, beating out fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos.
The British billionaire is the first person to go to space in his own ship, beating the Amazon founder by nine days.
The nearly 71-year-old Branson and five crewmates from his Virgin Galactic space tourism company reached an altitude of about 88km over the New Mexico desert — enough to experience three to four minutes of weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth — and then safely glided home to a runway landing.
“It was a “complete experience of a lifetime”, a jubilant Branson said as he congratulated his team that included India-descent Sirisha Bandla on the trip aboard the sleek white space plane, named Unity.
The brief, up-and-down flight — the rocket ship’s portion took only about 15 minutes, or about as long as Alan Shepard’s first US space flight in 1961 — was intended as a confidence booster for Virgin Galactic, which plans to start taking paying customers on joyrides next year.