Virgin Galactic founder Branson will become the company’s first passenger on a space trip later today when he takes off aboard his own spacecraft. This not only fulfills his childhood dream, but is also seen as a way to get a head start in the space travel race.
Richard Branson’s ultimate goal is to promote space tourism, but he also hopes to “win the race” by becoming the first owner of a space travel company to go to space himself, ahead of his competitors, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and Blue Origin, became the first space travel company owner to travel to space himself.
The U.S. news site Business Insider reported that Bezos, who is scheduled to travel to space on the 20th of this month, showed his poise on the afternoon of the 10th by posting on Instagram, “Best wishes to Branson and the entire team for a successful and safe trip tomorrow, good luck!
SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk also tweeted that he would be there to witness the event, “(Branson) see you there, wishing you all the best”.
In fact, as early as the 2000s, there have been several rich people to travel to space, but they were all aboard the Russian spacecraft.
On this space trip, Branson’s role is to evaluate the customer experience in order to improve future customer journeys.
The trip is scheduled to depart after 9 a.m. U.S. East Coast time on the 11th (9 p.m. Taiwan time) and will be streamed live on Virgin Galactic’s website.
The Virgin Space Ship Unity (VSS Unity) and its two pilots and four passengers (including Branson and three Virgin employees) will take off from New Mexico with a large transport aircraft. Unity will then detach from the transport aircraft in mid-air and start its engines, accelerating upward at an acceleration equal to 3.5 times the Earth’s gravity.
When Unity passes approximately 80 kilometers above Earth, which is the junction between Earth and space as determined by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other agencies, the engines will be cut off, allowing passengers to unbuckle their seat belts and experience the feeling of no gravity in space while viewing the Earth through the ship’s 17 windows. The spacecraft will begin its descent after reaching its highest point, about 88 kilometers above the Earth.
Before departing, Branson, now 70, wrote, “Since I was a child, I have wanted to go to space. At a time when that dream seemed out of reach for my generation, I founded Virgin Galactic (in 2004) to create a company that would make my dream come true.
After today, Virgin Galactic plans to make two more space flights and then begin regular commercial travel in early 2022. The company’s ultimate goal is to make 400 space trips per year.