Billionaire Branson and his ship successfully returned from a test flight, it is said to have reached the limits of space – ČT24 – Czech Television

Hundreds of spectators at the base cheered after landing, Branson hurried to his family, hugged his wife and children, and took three grandchildren in his arms. “It’s a life experience,” the entrepreneur praised after returning to Spaceport America. “I’ve been dreaming about this since childhood, but nothing could prepare me to look at Earth from space,” said the billionaire. “We are at the forefront of a new space era,” Branson added.

“It was an amazing achievement,” said Chris Hadfield, a former Canadian astronaut. “I am so pleased with where this open door will lead now. It’s a big moment, “said the former commander of the International Space Station (ISS).

For the test flight, the spacecraft took off after 16:30 CET from the Spaceport America spaceport in the US state of New Mexico, and about an hour later, the plane landed there. The start was originally planned for 15:00 CEST, but due to the weather it was postponed by an hour and a half.

Sunday, the 22nd, was the first with a complete six-member crew. It consisted of pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci and four “mission specialists,” including Branson. His task was to evaluate the experience of a commercial shuttle user before Virgin Galactic began offering space travel to paying tourists. Of the previous 21 test flights, three took place with people on board.

The VSS Unity shuttle itself brought a VMS Eve aircraft to a height of about 15 kilometers. Then the shuttle detached, ignited its own engines, and ascended a steep climb to the limit of 90 kilometers above the earth’s surface. The crew then remained in a state of weightlessness for a few minutes, after which they returned to Earth in a shuttle.

Virgin Galactic has previously announced that it expects to launch its space commercial services next year. However, this should be preceded by two more test flights. According to the AP, Sunday’s flight was supposed to strengthen confidence in space tourism offered by Virgin Galactic.

A billionaire against a billionaire

Branson was launched into space just nine days before another company, Blue Origin, noted a similar milestone with its suborbital New Shepard. Blue Origin expects to launch its boss, Jeff Bezos, a billionaire and founder of Amazon, who recently resigned as CEO of an e-shop giant, on July 20. He will be accompanied by a small crew.

Bezos’ flight will take place on the 52nd anniversary of the first landing of the moon, Apollo 11 in 1969. Branson said in interviews that he was inspired to travel into space while pursuing the same mission in his youth. Branson also recently publicly denied that he and Bezos were vying for the first to enter space; However, Bezos is mostly silent on this matter.

One of Branson’s great rivals in the space tourism sector is also SpaceX boss Elon Musk, who, according to the AP, was among the spectators of the historic flight directly in New Mexico, and he also wished Branson a happy flight via Twitter.

Will it really fly into space?

Both billionaires announce that they will fly into space, but in reality it is more complicated. It depends on what definition of outer space or universe they use. SpaceShipTwo flights usually fly slightly below the Karman line, an altitude limit of one hundred kilometers, which many people consider to be the edge of space. However, VSS Unity has already undertaken three test flights with a crew above the level of 80 kilometers, which is recognized as the border of space by NASA, the US Army and the US Federal Aviation Administration.

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