British billionaire Richard Branson will enter space on Sunday 11 July with a spacecraft from his own company Virgin Galactic. Thats nine days earlier than his rival Jeff Bezos. The Amazon top man who owns the Blue Origin aerospace company scheduled his first space journey on July 20. According to Branson, its pure “coincidence” that he goes earlier now and absolutely not meant that way, he says in an interview.
Virgin Galactic announced in a statement on Friday the date of the next test flight with its SpaceShipTwo Unity, with the disclaimer: “Pending the weather and technical checks.” Branson, who was actually supposed to go on a later flight, will be accompanied by three employees of the space company. They will investigate “cabin conditions, seating comfort, weightlessness and views of earth” among other things. And all to ensure that for future astronauts “the miracle and awe that space is creating is as optimal as possible.”
Virgin Galactic carries out his travels by first letting his rocket plane go into the air paired with a normal plane. After disconnecting, the rocket plane then moves to the edge of the atmosphere. The SpaceShipTwo Unity has been in space three times before.
Bezos takes his brother Mark and 82-year-old wife Wally Funk on the first manned flight of Blue Origin, as well as the winner of an auction that held a spot in the rocket for $28 million (more than 23 million euros). Funk wanted to be an astronaut before, becoming the oldest person ever to go into space.
Branson and Bezos arent the only billionaires engaged in space travel. Tesla top man Elon Musk also has an aerospace company called SpaceX. That company is already running NASA flights and launches commercial missiles that bring satellites into space, among other things.