Richard Branson dismisses woke backlash against ‘extraordinary’ Virgin Galactic spaceflight


A shoeless Sir Richard Branson hit back at the woke backlash to his Virgin Galactic spaceflight after left pundits questioned if it was a ‘misuse of resources’.

Sir Richard, who become the first person to go to space in his own rocketship, beating fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos by nine days – said that space is important for humanity and he has always been a ‘dreamer.’

The entrepreneur, 70, addressed the criticism while appearing on the ‘The Late Show’ without his shoes or socks on and with host Stephen Colbert jokingly asking why all billionaires go barefoot.

When asked about concerns that going to space is a ‘misuse of resources’, Sir Richard argued that the critics of space travel are not fully educated in the benefits of it. 

A shoeless Richard Branson hit back at the woke backlash to his Virgin Galactic spaceflight after left pundits questioned if it was a ‘misuse of resources’ on ‘The Late Show’

Sir Richard, who become the first person to go to space in his own rocketship (pictured), said that space is important for humanity and he has always been a 'dreamer'

Sir Richard, who become the first person to go to space in his own rocketship (pictured), said that space is important for humanity and he has always been a ‘dreamer’

He explained: ‘I can understand it, but I think maybe they are not fully educated as to what space does for Earth.’

Sir Richard claimed that we need more rocketships going into space as they can help us to monitor climate change and other important issues. 

He continued: ‘Space is connecting the billions of people who are not connected, on telephones, on other things. 

‘Space is, I mean every single spaceship we sent, whether it’s Virgin Orbit which we launched a week before into orbit, putting satellites up there and monitoring different things around the world, like the degradation of rainforests or monitoring food distribution or monitoring things like climate change and so on. 

‘These things are essential back here on Earth, so we need more spaceships going up to space, we don’t need less.’

Both Sir Richard and Bezos have received criticism on social media amid their race to space as people have raised concerns about where their wealth is being allocated.

The billionaire also revealed that he had taken a photograph of Colbert, 57, to space with him after the chat show host agreed to narrate the livestream of Sir Richard's flight

The billionaire also revealed that he had taken a photograph of Colbert, 57, to space with him after the chat show host agreed to narrate the livestream of Sir Richard’s flight

On the chat show, the billionaire signed the tiny photograph of Colbert and gave it to him saying: 'One small photo for Stephen Colbert, one giant leap for mankind'

On the chat show, the billionaire signed the tiny photograph of Colbert and gave it to him saying: ‘One small photo for Stephen Colbert, one giant leap for mankind’

When asked about concerns that going to space is a 'misuse of resources', Sir Richard said it can educate us on and help us monitor climate change and other important issues

When asked about concerns that going to space is a ‘misuse of resources’, Sir Richard said it can educate us on and help us monitor climate change and other important issues

Sir Richard quipped that Colbert could ‘afford’ to go to space when he was quizzed about the cost of the venture, adding that the presenter had asked if he could join him in space, but the flight was sadly full.

The Swiss-based investment bank UBS has estimated the potential value of the space tourism market reaching $3 billion annually by 2030. 

The billionaire also revealed that he had taken a small photograph of Colbert, 57, to space with him after the chat show host agreed to narrate the Unity22 livestream of Sir Richard’s flight to space.

Colbert showed footage of the businessman cutting up a picture of him to take to space, saying he didn’t want it to weigh too much as ‘every bit of weight counts’, before putting the photograph in his top pocket ready for the flight.

On the chat show, the billionaire signed the tiny photograph of Colbert and gave it to him saying: ‘One small photo for Stephen Colbert, one giant leap for mankind. 

‘This has been to space and I would like to give it to you.’ 

‘One small photo for Stephen Colbert, one giant leap for mankind. This has been to space and I would like to give it to you.’

He also provided some words of wisdom for Bezos, who is planning to be among passengers on the New Shepard flight to space on July 20.

He said: ‘Sit back, relax, look out of the window. Absorb the view outside. Really take it in, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, enjoy it.’

Sir Richard was not supposed to fly until this summer, but went on an earlier flight after Bezos announced plans to ride his own rocket ship into space from Texas on July 20

Sir Richard was not supposed to fly until this summer, but went on an earlier flight after Bezos announced plans to ride his own rocket ship into space from Texas on July 20

Sir Richard, who said he had dreamed about travelling to space since childhood, was one of six Virgin Galactic employees aboard VSS Unity for the voyage (pictured) to 280,000ft

Sir Richard, who said he had dreamed about travelling to space since childhood, was one of six Virgin Galactic employees aboard VSS Unity for the voyage (pictured) to 280,000ft

Footage (pictured) 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

Footage (pictured) 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

Sir Richard was not supposed to fly until later this summer, but he assigned himself to an earlier flight after Bezos announced plans to ride his own rocket ship into space from Texas next week.

Last week, Sir Richard became the first billionaire in space, celebrating the ‘experience of a lifetime’ with his wife, children and grandchildren, who greeted him on the tarmac after his Virgin Galactic spacecraft returned from the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The British entrepreneur pumped his fists in the air as he stepped onto the runway in New Mexico before skipping towards his daughter Holly’s twins Etta and Artie and scooping them up in his arms.

Sir Richard, who said he had dreamed about travelling to space since childhood, was one of six Virgin Galactic employees aboard VSS Unity for the voyage to 280,000ft.

‘I’ve always a dreamer,’ Branson said recently on Twitter, prior to his space flight. ‘My mum taught me to never give up and to reach for the stars.’ 

Speaking to a crowd of spectators the flight, he 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.’

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.

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 before being released so it could power up to highs of 250,000ft.

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

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.

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

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

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

The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity flies at Spaceport America, near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico on July 11 before travel to the cosmos with Richard Branson

The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity flies at Spaceport America, near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico on July 11 before travel to the cosmos with Richard Branson

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, left, sprays champagne on crew member Beth Moses while celebrating their flight to space from Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, left, sprays champagne on crew member Beth Moses while celebrating their flight to space from Spaceport America

Sir Richard is the first person to enter space in their own vessel, a feat he accomplished nine days before Amazon founder Jeff Bezos plans to ride his own rocket ship – New Shepard – into space.

The business magnate sent his congratulations following the successful flight, writing: ‘Can’t wait to join the club!’

Mike Moses, a top executive at Virgin Galactic, said the flight was ‘perfect’ aside from some issues with the transmission of images from inside the cabin. He added the spacecraft looked pristine upon its return.  

‘That was an amazing accomplishment,’ former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, a one-time commander of the International Space Station, said. ‘I’m just so delighted at what this open door is going to lead to now. It’s a great moment.’   

Michael Colglazier, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, added: ‘This is a landmark moment for Virgin Galactic. 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 was dedicated to ‘opening up space to all’. 

In a statement posted after the flight, Sir Richard said ‘how you feel when you look when you look down on Earth is impossible to put into words, it’s just indescribable beauty. I can’t wait for you all to get up there.’  

The businessman added: ‘Imagine a world where people of all ages and backgrounds, from anywhere, of any gender, of any ethnicity have equal access to space. They will in turn, inspire us all back here on Earth.

‘If you’ve ever had a dream, now is the time to make it come true. Welcome to the dawn of a new space age.’

Sir Richard also confirmed plans to ‘turn the next generation of dreamers into the astronauts of today’, while announcing an Omaze sweepstake for the chance to win two seats aboard one of the first commercial Virgin Galactic flights.

The flamboyant billionaire is the second oldest person to travel to space – after 77-year-old John Glenn in 1998.

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, left, sprays champagne on crew members Beth Moses and Colin Bennett, right, while celebrating their flight to space from Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, left, sprays champagne on crew members Beth Moses and Colin Bennett, right, while celebrating their flight to space from Spaceport America

Branson carries crew member Sirisha Bandla on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space at Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Branson carries crew member Sirisha Bandla on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space at Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

He was joined by chief pilot David Mackay, a Scottish-born test pilot for the Royal Air Force who went on to fly for Sir Richard’s Virgin Atlantic, and chief flight instructor Michael Masucci.

Also onboard was chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, a former NASA engineer, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett and Sirisha Bandla, a company vice president. The six grabbed a lift from mothership pilots C.J. Sturckow, a former NASA astronaut, and Kelly Latimer.

Virgin Galactic doesn’t expect to start flying customers before next year. Blue Origin has yet to open ticket sales or even announce prices, but late last week boasted via Twitter that it would take clients higher and offer bigger windows.

Unlike Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which launch capsules atop reusable booster rockets, Virgin Galactic uses a twin-fuselage aircraft to get its rocket ship aloft.

The space plane is released from the mothership about 44,000 feet up, then fires its rocket motor to streak straight to space. Maximum altitude is roughly 55 miles, with three to four minutes of weightlessness provided.

The rocket plane – which requires two pilots – glides to a runway landing at its Spaceport America base.

Virgin Galactic reached space for the first time in 2018, repeating the feat in 2019 and again this past May, each time with a minimal crew. It received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration last month to start launching customers.



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