Jeff Bezos congratulates Richard Branson on his maiden space voyage


Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos has offered his congratulations to Virgin owner Sir Richard Branson on his maiden voyage into space.  

The 70-year-old British billionaire flew to the edge of space aboard Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed flight on Sunday

Branson and five crewmates reached an altitude of 53.5 miles (86 kilometres) over the New Mexico desert before gliding safely back to Earth. 

The altitude was enough to experience three to four minutes of weightlessness and witness the curvature of the Earth – which Branson called an ‘experience of a lifetime’.

The brief, up-and-down flight was intended as a confidence-boosting plug for Virgin Galactic, which plans to start taking paying customers on joyrides next year.   

Tourists are expected to pay 250,000 US dollars (£180,000) for a spaceflight on Virgin Galactic, which includes four minutes of zero gravity.  

Bezos, who also owns Amazon, is due to make his own trip on July 20 – the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. 

Scroll down for video 

Bezos posted to Instagram: ”@richardbransonand crew, congratulations on the flight. Can’t wait to join the club!’

In this photo provided by Virgin Galactic, the VSS Unity's rocket motor burns above the Earth on Sunday, July 11, 2021

In this photo provided by Virgin Galactic, the VSS Unity’s rocket motor burns above the Earth on Sunday, July 11, 2021

‘@richardbransonand crew, congratulations on the flight. Can’t wait to join the club!,’ Bezos posted to Instagram on Monday. 

Prior to the flight, Bezos had posted a photo of Branson with the caption: ‘wishing you and the whole team a successful and safe flight tomorrow. Best of luck!’ 

Bezos will travel with his younger brother Mark, a charity auction winner who’s shelling out $28 million and pioneering female astronaut Wally Funk, 82. 

Jeff Bezos posts a message to Richard Branson (pictured) on July 10, 2021: @richardbranson wishing you and the whole team a successful and safe flight tomorrow. Best of luck!'

Jeff Bezos posts a message to Richard Branson (pictured) on July 10, 2021: @richardbranson wishing you and the whole team a successful and safe flight tomorrow. Best of luck!’

The Blue Origin passengers will spend at least 10 minutes floating in zero gravity inside the capsule during the suborbital sightseeing trip. 

Blue Origin named the New Shepard program after astronaut Alan Shepard, who was the first American to fly into space 60 years ago. 

The flight will mark a huge milestone in the mission to send paying customers to the edge of space – an industry known as ‘space tourism’.  

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity and mothership separate as they fly way above Spaceport America, near Truth and Consequences, New Mexico on July 11, 2021 on the way to the cosmos

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity and mothership separate as they fly way above Spaceport America, near Truth and Consequences, New Mexico on July 11, 2021 on the way to the cosmos 

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos (pictured) has an estimated personal worth of $186.2 billion (£131.5 billion)

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos (pictured) has an estimated personal worth of $186.2 billion (£131.5 billion)

Blue Origin: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ intergalactic dream

Blue Origin was formed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2000.

The firm’s mission statement reads on its website: ‘We’re committed to building a road to space so our children can build the future.’ 

It’s believed the company is largely propped from the American billionaire’s own back pocket, selling millions of pounds worth of Amazon stock each year to fund his aerospace company.

Bezos outlined Blue Origin’s intergalactic plans in a revealing interview in 2017, explaining his visions of colonies on the moon and harvesting resources from asteroids.

He said: ‘I want my grandchildren’s grandchildren to be in a world of pioneering, exploration and expansion throughout the solar system.’

But Branson has arguably ‘won the space race’ by pipping Bezos to the post by just nine days, as well as SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who tweeted, ‘Congratulations, beautiful flight!’

Sunday’s launch was hailed a ‘landmark moment’ for Branson, as well as the whole commercial space industry.

Take-off had been delayed by about 90 minutes on Sunday due to the weather overnight at Spaceport America in New Mexico, in the US.

Footage streamed live online showed the Virgin Galactic in the air at about 3.45pm UK time, and the aircraft had reached 40,000 feet by 4pm. 

The spacecraft was carried up into the atmosphere by its mothership, the VSS Unity, before being released so it could power up to highs of 250,000 feet.

Sir Richard and his crew reached speeds of Mach 3 on their way to the edge of space. 

After a short spell during which they experienced weightlessness, the craft then pointed downwards and made its way back to the ground, touching down around 4.40pm.

On the return flight, Sir Richard hailed the ‘experience of a lifetime’ and the ‘hard, hard work’ that went into the flight. 

Speaking to a crowd of spectators afterwards, Branson said: ‘Like most kids, I have dreamt of this moment since I was kid. But nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space, the whole thing was just magical.’ 

Sir Richard later posted a video of himself while onboard the Unity, saying: ‘To all you kids down there, I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars. Now I’m an adult in a spaceship, with lots of other wonderful adults looking down at our beautiful, beautiful Earth.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, is hoping to finally get the nascent space tourism industry off the ground

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, is hoping to finally get the nascent space tourism industry off the ground

Branson floats in zero gravity on board Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity

Branson floats in zero gravity on board Virgin Galactic’s passenger rocket plane VSS Unity

Branson delivering a message from space aboard SpaceShip Two Unity 22 during their flight after take off from Spaceport America, New Mexico, US

Branson delivering a message from space aboard SpaceShip Two Unity 22 during their flight after take off from Spaceport America, New Mexico, US

‘To the next generation of dreamers, if we can do this, just imagine what you can do.’  

He also paid tribute to the late scientist Stephen Hawking, who he said it was an ‘honour’ to know.

On the ground, Michael Colglazier, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said: ‘This is a landmark moment for Virgin Galactic. 

Branson, left, sprays champagne to crew member Beth Moses while celebrating their flight to space from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, N.M., Sunday

Branson, left, sprays champagne to crew member Beth Moses while celebrating their flight to space from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, N.M., Sunday

Branson wears his astronaut's wings at a news conference, after flying with a crew in Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity

Branson wears his astronaut’s wings at a news conference, after flying with a crew in Virgin Galactic’s passenger rocket plane VSS Unity

‘It’s a landmark moment for the new commercial space industry and it certainly is a landmark moment for our founder Richard Branson.’

He said the company’s work on Sunday was dedicated to ‘opening up space to all’.

Branson was pictured ahead of his historic flight today with SpaceX’s Musk.

Both Musk, 50 and Sir Richard, 70, were snapped ahead of the British billionaire's ground-breaking journey to space alongside the message: 'Big day ahead. Great to start the morning with a friend.'

Both Musk, 50 and Sir Richard, 70, were snapped ahead of the British billionaire’s ground-breaking journey to space alongside the message: ‘Big day ahead. Great to start the morning with a friend.’

Musk, 50, and Branson were snapped ahead of Sunday’s journey to space alongside the message: ‘Big day ahead. Great to start the morning with a friend.’  

Branson, Bezos and Musk, who have a combined net worth exceeding $380 billion (£274 billion), have poured their near limitless resources into their respective space start-ups in the hopes of revolutionising aerospace journeys. 

The group have all said that they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US beat the Soviet Union in the space race, and had previously said how much it would mean for each to win the ‘new space race’.

Although SpaceX and Tesla founder Musk has said he wants to go into space, and even ‘die on Mars’, he has not said when he might blast into orbit.  

THE BILLIONAIRE SPACE RACE: HOW BRANSON, MUSK AND BEZOS ARE VYING FOR GALACTIC SUPREMACY

Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin's space capsule

Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule

Dubbed the ‘NewSpace’ set, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US beat the Soviet Union in the space race, and there is no doubt how much it would mean to each of them to win the ‘new space race’.

Amazon founder Bezos had looked set to be the first of the three to fly to space, having announced plans to launch aboard his space company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20. 

The billionaire mogul will travel with his younger brother Mark, a charity auction winner who’s shelling out $28 million and pioneering female astronaut Wally Funk, 82.

However, Branson has now announced he’s planning to make a suborbital flight nine days before Bezos and his brother. He revealed on Twitter that he plans to be Astronaut 001 on Virgin Galactic’s July 11 test flight.

Although SpaceX and Tesla founder Musk has said he wants to go into space, and even ‘die on Mars’, he has not said when he might blast into orbit. 

SpaceX appears to be leading the way in the broader billionaire space race with numerous launches carrying NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists to space by 2021.  

On February 6 2018, SpaceX sent rocket towards the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached. 

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

NASA has already selected two astronauts who will be on-board the first manned Dragon mission. 

SpaceX has also started sending batches of 60 satellites into space to help form its Starlink network. 

Musk hopes this will provide an interconnected web of satellites around Earth which will beam down free internet to people worldwide.  

Branson and Virgin Galactic are taking a different approach to conquering space. It has repeatedly, and successfully, conducted test flights of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity space plane. 

The first took place in December 2018 and the latest on May 22, with the flight accelerating to more than 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7). 

More than 600 affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips. 

Branson has previously said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket firm SpaceX. 

Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft

Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft

SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one overhead.

The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.

It climbs to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier craft, White Knight II, once it has passed the 50-mile mark.

Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere.

The spaceship will then make a suborbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 1.5 hours.

Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.

The system consists of a pressurised crew capsule atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster rocket.   

Bezos is one of the richest men in the world and Blue Origin has successfully flown the New Shepard rocket 15 times.

At its peak, the capsule reached 65 miles (104 kilometres), just above the official threshold for space and landed vertically seven minutes after liftoff.  



Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button