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Virgin Galactic completes first fully manned spaceflight, with Richard Branson aboard

Branson was blasted into space on a Virgin Galactic rocket in an event which may signal the start of a new age of space tourism.

The head of Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson, beat Jeff Bezos to become the first billionaire in space following the successful launch of his Virgin Galactic spacecraft on July 11, which you can watch in full via the embedded video below:

Ascending to a height of 282,000 feet (that’s around 53 miles or 85 kilometres), and reaching Mach 3.0 (that’s three times as fast as the speed of sound), the Virgin Galactic Unity left Earth’s atmosphere and briefly observed the planet from space.

Read More: Richard Branson speeds up Virgin Galactic’s schedule to beat Jeff Bezos into space

Footage from the flight showed the passengers experiencing weightlessness, while they enjoyed the incomparable view of the oceans and continents below. 

This was the 22nd spaceflight of the craft, but it was the first with a full complement of crew members, including the firm’s founder Richard Branson. Speaking of his experience, the mogul said: “I have dreamt about this moment since I was a child, but nothing could have prepared me for the view of Earth from space. We are at the vanguard of a new space age. As Virgin’s founder, I was honoured to test the incredible customer experience as part of this remarkable crew of mission specialists and now astronauts. I can’t wait to share this experience with aspiring astronauts around the world.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Jeff Bezos (@jeffbezos)

It may indeed become a new space age, as all eyes now turn towards Blue Origin, the space firm founded by Jeff Bezos, which will make its maiden voyage on July 20. Bezos congratulated Branson in the Instagram post embedded above, which was considerably gracious considering that Virgin Galactic sped up their schedule to beat him to the punch. 

Once the two firms are up and running, a trip to space will become a genuine possibility for civilians, albeit only for the very richest. That’s right: prepare yourselves for the world’s most obnoxious “influencer” Instagram accounts to become even worse.

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