Branson aiming to beat Bezos in billionaires' race to space

Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic founder, is determined to defeat Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin owner and Amazon founder to space.Each company has been working on its own space tourism service in recent years. These rides will take you to the Krmn Line, an area that is 62 miles above Earth and widely considered the edge of space.Bezos declared last month that hell will ride aboard Blue Origins New Shepard rocket July 20, in what will be Blue Origins first ever crewed mission. This follows 15 test flights of the suborbital spacecraft.In a surprising move that might make Bezos shiver, Branson announced that he would be riding on Virgin Galactics rocket-powered VSS Unity to experience a similar trip to space. The mission window opens on July 11.It's one thing to dream of making space more accessible for all, but it's another to be able to work with an amazing team @Unity22 Richard Branson - Richard Branson July 2, 2021Virgin Galactics will fly the Unity 22 mission, the 22nd Unity 22 test flight and the fourth crewed spaceflight. The upcoming flight will transport a crew of two pilots, four mission specialists, one of which will be Branson. This will allow Branson to test the space tourism concept.Virgin Galactic claims it will livestream the entire event. The broadcast will begin on Virgin Galactic's website at 9 a.m. ET on the day.Branson, 70, commented on the planned flight and said that Virgin Galactic is at the forefront of a new space industry. This industry will open space for humankind and make the world a better place.Marketing MoveVirgin Galactic claims that the mission's purpose is to test customer experience. However, Branson's sudden announcement of a flight schedule aiming to place Branson in space before billionaire Bezos will be seen by many as a publicity stunt as the race for commercial space tourism services heats up.Virgin Galactics' announcement comes just days after Bezos announced Wally Funk as the third member of his crew to fly with him and his brother, on July 20. At 82 years old, the American aviator and Goodwill Ambassador will be the oldest person to travel to space. She will take the ride later in the month.The experienceVirgin Galactic and Blue Origin offer space tourism experiences that are slightly different. Both the Unity spaceplan and Blue Origins capsule can carry up to six passengers. However, they have very different flight systems.Virgin Galactic uses a jet powered aircraft to transport Unity up to 50,000 feet, before it releases the space plane to launch its rocket-powered trip into space. Blue Origins uses a rocket launch with passengers inside a capsule.Unity glides back to the runway for the final experience. New Shepards capsule deploys parachutes to soften the landing in the desert.Both companies promise that their trips will provide stunning views of Earth as well as several minutes of weightlessness, allowing passengers to glide around the cabin.Virgin Galactic has been selling seats at $250,000 for its space tourism services. Blue Origin has yet to disclose how much it will charge, but the fees are expected to be comparable to Virgin Galactics.These space tourism services are yet to be officially launched.Editors' Recommendations