Another Billionaire Will Get to Space 9 Days Before Bezos

Richard Branson will be on July 11 flight
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2021 4:12 AM CDT
Updated Jul 2, 2021 6:34 AM CDT
Branson Will Beat Bezos to Space by 9 Days
This image provided by Virgin Galactic shows, from left: Chief Pilot Dave Mackay, Lead Operations Engineer Colin Bennett, Chief Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses, Richard Branson, Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations Sirisha Bandla and pilot Michael Masucci.   (Virgin Galactic via AP)

Jeff Bezos is going on what he calls his "greatest adventure" on July 20—but the Amazon founder won't be able to claim the title of "first billionaire to go to space in his own spacecraft." Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson announced Thursday that he will be on board the July 11 test flight of the VSS Unity rocketplane, meaning he will get to suborbital space nine days before Bezos, the Guardian reports. Virgin Galactic and Bezos' Blue Origin company will be competing for customers in the space tourism market, with flights bringing customers to the edge of space for several minutes, reports CBS.

Virgin Galactic says the July 11 flight aims to evaluate weightlessness, seat comfort, and views of Earth from the cabin. Branson said he is "honored" to help ensure his business delivers "a unique customer experience." Branson's announcement came hours after Bezos revealed that 82-year-old Wally Funk, a woman who aced astronaut tests 60 years ago but was shut out by NASA, would be on the July 20 flight, along with his brother and the winner of a $28 million charity auction. The New York Times reports that when Branson was asked Wednesday whether he was trying to beat Bezos to space, he laughed and said, "Jeff who?" Forbes notes that the title of first billionaire in space was taken by software architect Charles Simonyi in 2007. (More Richard Branson stories.)

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