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One Giant Step for Richard Branson

Posted by Caribbean World Magazine on 13 February 2019 | 0 Comments

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13 February 2019

The billionaire claims that the Virgin Galactic spaceship is poised for a July take-off to coincide with the Apollo Moon Landing’s 50th anniversary

Virgin boss Richard Branson looks set to boldly go where no other suborbital passengers have been before by the summer. Preparations are underway, he says, for take-off within four or five months, with hopes to coincide travel with the anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission landing. Last year, after blasting off in the Mojave Desert, the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo reached the edge of space for the first time, marking a major milestone in Branson’s space tourism endeavours.  Reaching a boundary more than 50 miles above Earth for the first time put Virgin well ahead of its competitors - Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin - who have yet to carry crew to a point so high using their passenger craft. Branson plans to send hundreds of people on similar short suborbital flights, an entrepreneurial endeavour that has fuelled the public’s imagination and inspired investment via the exciting commercial opportunities it presents. 

Even though the Virgin Galactic craft won’t get high enough to orbit the earth, Branson, 69, is putting his body through a demanding training regime in order to undertake the mission in peak physical shape. Branson has previously announced dates for this first space voyage – in 2013 and in 2017, neither of which happened. The British billionaire was elated when the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo successfully completed its suborbital test flight of the VSS Unity in December 2018. A second test mission is now in the advanced stages of planning. Passengers will be charged £190,000 ($250,000) for a seat on one of its commercial flights. The American Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on July 20th, 1969.