If everything goes as per plan, Richard Branson will take off at least two weeks before Jeff Bezos. FILE PHOTO: REUTERS/Kelsey Brunner/File photo
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was supposed to be the first billionaire space tycoon to fly to space. But turns out Virgin Group founder Richard Branson may just beat him to it.
Virgin Galactic is planning to send Branson on a suborbital flight aboard his space company’s VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo rocket plane in the first week of July (the 4th of July weekend), as per a Parabolic Arc report.
Virgin Group said the flight was still subject to obtaining an operator’s licence from the authorities at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
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Bezos is scheduled to go to space aboard Blue Origin‘s first crewed flight New Shepard Suborbital vehicle on July 20. If everything goes as per plan, Branson will take off at least two weeks before Bezos.
A Virgin Galactic spokesperson said the firm is in the process of analyzing the data from the May 22 flight.
“As previously announced, we expect to complete the final test flights this summer through to early fall. At this time, we have not determined the date of our next flight. An objective from the last flight was to collect data to be used for the final two verification reports that are required as part of the current FAA commercial reusable spacecraft operator’s license,” a Virgin Galactic spokesman said, as per the report.
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The report said Virgin Galactic had been planning the flight before the announcement from Bezos’s company came on June 7.
Meanwhile, Bezos said he and his brother Mark will blast off from Earth on July 20 on the first crewed flight of the company’s New Shepard launch vehicle.
Blue Origin is auctioning off the third seat in the spacecraft and bidding is already at $3.2 million with thousands of participants from around the world.
The trip will last a total of 10 minutes, four of which passengers will spend above the Karman line that marks the recognised boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.