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Space & Astronomy

Richard Branson reaches the edge of space

By T.K. Randall
July 11, 2021 · Comment icon 25 comments

Branson was ecstatic during the trip. Image Credit: Virgin Galactic
The entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Galactic soared into the heavens today aboard the VSS Unity.
It's been a bumpy few years for Virgin Galactic, especially with the loss of its original SpaceShipTwo in October 2014 - an accident that not only claimed the life of a pilot, but also cast doubt on whether the company's lofty goal of launching tourists into space would ever happen at all.

Now at last, however, founder Richard Branson's vision of providing an affordable way for tourists to reach the edge of space has finally been realized with Branson himself along for the ride.

Alongside two pilots and three other passengers, the 70-year-old took off at 10.40am ET this morning from Virgin Galactic's Spaceport America in New Mexico's Jornada del Muerto desert basin.

After reaching approximately 46,000ft, the VSS Unity spacecraft was drop-launched from the SpaceShipTwo spaceplane and ignited its booster rocket to take it up the rest of the way.
The crew experienced a brief period of weightlessness against the backdrop of the curvature of the Earth before the spacecraft began its descent back to terra firma.

The mission was ultimately successful and the crew landed safely a short time later.

For Branson, the flight marked the culmination of decades of work as well as the fulfilment of a lifetime dream of flying to space.

It also marks Virgin Galactic's success at beating Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos - whose New Shepard spacecraft will be launching in just over a weeks' time - to the punch.

Comments (25)

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Comment icon #16 Posted by and then 3 years ago
I've only been in that neighborhood once but it made for a powerful memory.  Whoever chose the state slogan chose well.  BTW, did the Land of Enchantment every decide?  Red or Green?  
Comment icon #17 Posted by Likely Guy 3 years ago
Big deal, and I'm sure it is. Great, now the billionaires can divide space.
Comment icon #18 Posted by RavenHawk 3 years ago
  It’s also the Land of Mañana, especially waiting on government.  But if we ever decide Red or Green (not likely in the land), then we’d have to go with the second most popular State Question: “Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul?”  But for fereners, you can’t go wrong with “Christmas”.  Rule of thumb, if it’s chicken, go green.  If it is beef, pork, carne adovada, go red.  
Comment icon #19 Posted by and then 3 years ago
If anyone can, it will be them.  My expectations are uniformly low.  The only thing I ask is that they don't start using advertising that appears in our night time skies.
Comment icon #20 Posted by and then 3 years ago
We flew into Albuquerque, stayed a couple of days then drove through the 4 corners area.  One of my best memories of Albuquerque was the view from the top of Sandia Peak.  I'll never forget the way the lights that were stretched out below us, seemed to sparkle.  That's not an effect we see down here in the land of perpetual humidity   Seriously... it was early September when we arrived and when standing in the sunlight, it felt like August does here at home.  Take one step to the side and when you're in the shade it instantly felt like early October    That first day I felt this altoget... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Susanc241 3 years ago
I was idling wondering if the flat earthers are going to take these various billionaires word for it that the Earth is indeed a sphere (oblate or otherwise).
Comment icon #22 Posted by Still Waters 3 years ago
Funny you should say this. Yesterday my husband said they should have taken a flat earther up with them. 
Comment icon #23 Posted by Nosy.Matters 3 years ago
The 'Flat Earth' special one would just say it was the curvature of the window making it look like that.
Comment icon #24 Posted by Silent Trinity 3 years ago
I find it amusing that Branson was asking our government for a bail out, a year later he is galivanting on the edges of the Earth's atmosphere in a race against Elon Musk? "From his private island in the Caribbean, Sir Richard Branson is trying to convince the UK government to give his Virgin Atlantic airline a £500m bailout to help it survive the coronavirus pandemic and the economic fallout of the lockdown".12 Apr 2020 Source: Guardian
Comment icon #25 Posted by Jon the frog 3 years ago
Nice !

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