Richard Branson is an entrepreneur who has always been on the cutting edge of technology. So it’s no surprise that he would be the first to go in space. Virgin Galactic, which he founded in 2004, is a company that specializes in commercializing space travel and suborbital human-tourism flights. He has now successfully completed his latest and arguably the greatest adventure with Sunday’s brief flight to the end of space aboard his Virgin Galactic spaceplane.
Spaceship Unity took off from New Mexico’s Spaceport America at 8:40 a.m. MT (7:40 a.m PT) attached to the underside of the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft VMS Eve, It then separated roughly 50 minutes after takeoff, fired up its rocket engine for about one minute, reaching speeds in excess of Mach III.
“I’ve never been so lucky. I’m rich enough, but this is the most wonderful feeling in the world,” said Branson after he landed back on Earth Sunday morning. “The only way to describe it – if you’re skiing downhill, and suddenly you get this massive rush of adrenalin – that’s what space feels like.”
Why is this trip important to Virgin Galactic and Space travel?
This flight is a big step forward for Virgin Galactic’s mission to create the world’s first commercial spaceline and change how we live on Earth by making space travel accessible. The company has already taken more than 700 reservations from over 180 customers eager to experience this new era of air transportation, which could include tourism as well as taking satellites into orbit or sending astronauts to the moon.
Branson said he would be among those very lucky few who take off with Unity during her next test flight later this year when she reaches suborbital altitude before returning down to earth again under rocket power and gliding unpowered – much like NASA did with the first space shuttle in 1981.
Who is Richard Branson?
Richard Branson is an English businessman and investor who has founded a number of successful companies, including Virgin Records. He set up the Virgin Group in the 1970s which now comprises 400 different businesses around the world in sectors from financial services to leisure. As well as founding space travel company Galactic Ventures, he also co-founded commercial airline Virgin Atlantic with Doug Black and launched Sir Richard’s (now rebranded Virgin) Rail Company.
Since 2004 Richard Branson has been CEO of The Spaceship Company, which built the SpaceShipOne series of vehicles for suborbital flights carrying paying passengers into space on rockets that take off from Mojave Air & Spaceport in southern California before being bought by entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX corporation. His most recent venture is Virgin Galactic, which aims to offer space tourism flights into sub-orbital space from Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Why is this space travel important to Virgin Galactic’s future?
Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson has always been a space pioneer. From the moment he announced his company in 2004, it was clear that one day Virgin Galactic would lead us to new frontiers.
It’s hard not to feel like we’ve made some progress after Sunday morning when SpaceShipTwo Unity became the first commercial spaceship ever built to break through Earth’s atmosphere and touch outer space for just over two minutes before returning safely back home. And now Richard Branson will be able to say, “I went into space.”
This historic event is important because though many people dream of going into space until recently only astronauts who are employed by NASA or other government agencies were given this opportunity. Now, more than 500 individuals from around the world have bought tickets to go into space with Virgin Galactic.
Though Branson is not an astronaut, he has always been rich in determination and vision for what can be done. He’s dreaming big about a future where millions of people become astronauts traveling across our solar system on commercial spaceships like Unity.
“I’m absolutely delighted that I was able to join this mission today,” said Branson after landing safely back on Earth at Spaceport America near Las Cruces, New Mexico around 11:30 am MT (12:30 pm PT). “We are standing on the brink of a whole new era – one in which passengers will finally travel to space from right here.” The first passenger flight could happen as soon as next year.
“It was a nice day, I went into space and so forth,” he said with an infectious laugh. “I think we’re going to go on to do the first commercial flights next year.”
He’s already started working with NASA on joint missions that could send astronauts up from spaceports other than Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The spaceship is also designed to be used as a point-to-point transport vehicle for rich tourists who want to travel anywhere around the world at very high speeds without having any of their trips take more than two hours – including airport transit time.
What to watch for if you are planning for Space Travel?
Space is not a friendly place. If the extreme temperatures don’t get to you, it
Learn about the defenses that astronauts face when attempting to protect their life in space. Test in vacuum in the cylinder to see what common objects in zero pressure look like. Investigate an x-ray for a large space suits’ protective components. The impact looks like a hole cut by a shard of metallic debris, and it looks like it is the effect of gravity by a particle. The exhibit features a set of gloves worn in his historic mission on Apollo 11 of America, an Apollo helmet, and a Canyon Diablo Meteor. Discover the dangers of the first part of your voyage to space at Explore the Endowment Fund.
Floating weightlessly around a space station sure looks like fun, but it’s not
Test your management of the power system in an orbiting satellite that keeps equipment running. As astronauts, you control the arm of the robot using hand controls on a monitor and video displays to complete mission tasks like docking. Test your workability in a spacesuit glove inside a partial vacuum to experience the real working conditions of space. Losing power may cause devastating consequences in space. Check how many skills are needed to manage the energy systems to run the station.
Astronauts look like they’re floating, but they’re falling.
Explore the orbit mechanics using a puck that’s in orbit with a planet in the middle of a circular air hockey table. Use a 16-foot drop tower equipped with a slow-motion rerun video of the effects on objects which momentary. See all the details about the orbital flight in the interactive questions and answers area – with animations that help to show you the concepts you are ” Take a drop tower with you to investigate all the effects of reducing weight.
Get a taste of the disorientation experienced by first-time astronauts
When standing on one platform, you’re flopping in space, with the module rotating slowly over you. A moment after completing Destiny, a variety of Lighting effects or narration are used to highlight equipment of the modules’ essential components. Tells the story of a research facility located 250 miles above the Earth.
It’s not easy to get to space.
This section focuses on various technologies related to space travel. Through interactive activities, discover costs of traveling to space as well potential future voyages. Invest in a water rocket, ignite an ion engine.