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Virgin Galactic downplays rumblings about a suborbital Branson vs. Bezos space race

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Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos
How severe might the suborbital house race between Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos get? (GeekWire Images)

Would Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson attempt to steal a march on Blue Origin (and Amazon) founder Jeff Bezos when it comes all the way down to which billionaire flies first on their very own suborbital spaceship?

There’s been some buzz about that query within the wake of this week’s announcement that Bezos will be among the first people to travel to the edge of space in Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule on July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon touchdown.

Branson was fast to tweet his congratulations when Bezos’ plans got here to gentle, but additionally instructed followers to “watch this house.”

And at the moment, Parabolic Arc’s Doug Messier — who’s lengthy reported on Virgin Galactic’s ups and downs from its residence base in Mojave, Calif. — quoted an unnamed supply as saying that the company was working on a plan to put Branson aboard its VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo rocket airplane for a visit past 50 miles in altitude over the Fourth of July vacation weekend.

Messier quoted his supply as saying the July four plan was contingent upon receiving licensing approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier has stated Branson can be on one of many upcoming SpaceShipTwo flights, going down as early as this summer time. However the anticipated plan is for VSS Unity to do a check flight with a lower-ranking crew of “mission specialists” first, and fly the boss on the journey after that.

Virgin Galactic’s check pilots flew VSS Unity above the 50-mile mark most recently on May 22. The corporate considers 50 miles to be the boundary of house, in accordance with the FAA’s definition for awarding business astronaut wings. In distinction, Blue Origin focuses on the 100-kilometer-high (62-mile-high) mark, the internationally accepted house boundary that’s often known as the Karman Line.

In an emailed assertion, Virgin Galactic stated it was nonetheless “within the technique of analyzing the info from our profitable Might 22nd flight.”

“As beforehand introduced, we count on to finish the ultimate check flights this summer time via to early fall,” the corporate stated. “At the moment, we have now not decided the date of our subsequent flight.”

The assertion didn’t explicitly reject the concept that mission planners is likely to be trying into the choices for giving Branson an early house journey.

Nonetheless, a supply who’s acquainted with the state of affairs surrounding the flight check schedule stated claims about sending Branson into house through the July four weekend can be false data, based mostly on the prevailing insurance policies for analyzing check knowledge and assessing flight security. The supply spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t licensed to debate the state of affairs publicly.

In the meantime, the net public sale for an open seat on the primary New Shepard flight to hold folks is continuous, with the excessive bid reaching $three.eight million at the moment. The public sale will attain its climax on Saturday with a stay bidding session that can be streamed by way of Blue Origin’s website beginning at 9:45 a.m. PT. Bids will registered confidentially, and Blue Origin says the id of the winner can be revealed “within the weeks following the public sale’s conclusion.”

Proceeds from the public sale can be donated to the Club for the Future, Blue Origin’s nonprofit academic basis. The winner would fill a seat alongside Jeff Bezos and his brother, Mark Bezos, plus as much as three different spacefliers who would presumably be Blue Origin staff or VIPs.

It’d be fairly one thing if Branson — or, for that matter, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk — ended up with the excessive bid. Wouldn’t it be an excessive amount of to think about the billionaire house rivals using collectively just like the stars of a sci-fi buddy movie?



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