- Richard Branson became the first billionaire to fly into space after a historic space flight onboard a Virgin Galactic spacecraft called ‘VSS Unity’ from New Mexico in the United States on July 11th, 2021 – Sunday.
- Branson was only 9 days ahead of fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos, who is also scheduled to journey to space on July 20, 2021. The VSS Unity space plane was lifted aloft by a carrier aircraft to a height of 45000 feet or 13,700 metres, where it separated from it, as per the mission plan.
- Following that, the space plane’s rocket engine ignited, assisting the team in ascending to roughly 290,000 feet, or a peak altitude of around 53 miles (85 kilometres), well beyond the edge of space. The 1.5-hour ride allowed passengers to feel weightless for a few minutes while observing the curve of the Earth through the ship’s 17 windows.
INDIAN CONNECTION –
- The vehicle’s two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, as well as three Galactic staffers, Beth Moses, Colin Bennett, and Sirisha Bandla, were in orbit with the Business Tycoon.
- On Sunday, Sirisha Bandla, an aeronautical engineer, made history alongside Branson. On Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed suborbital test flight from New Mexico on Sunday, Bandla became the third Indian-origin woman to soar into space.
- She is the Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations at Virgin Galatic at the moment.
SPACE TOURISM RACE –
- Moving away from the Cold War-era Space Race between the US and the USSR, the new space race has been initiated between the billionaires of the twenty-first century to achieve a first-mover advantage in the specialised Space Tourism business.
- Both Virgin Galactic and Blue One, founded by Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, foresee businesses catering to wealthy visitors prepared to pay top money for a brief time of weightlessness and an amazing view of the Earth and skies.