Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson is finally a space tourist following the successful flight of VSS Unity on Sunday, 11 July. Branson joined the crew of the space craft on its first fully manned test flight, which saw it reach suborbital space on the 19-minute flight before returning safely to earth.
The crew fulfilled a number of test objectives related to the cabin and customer experience, including evaluating the commercial customer cabin, the views of Earth from space, the conditions for conducting research and the effectiveness of the five-day pre-flight training program at Spaceport America.
Richard Branson 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.”
VSS Unity achieved a speed of Mach 3 after being released from the mothership, VMS Eve. The vehicle reached space, at an altitude of 53.5 miles, before gliding smoothly to a runway landing at Spaceport America.
You can watch the whole trip here:
Branson is in direct competition with Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos for the space tourism market – Bezos is set to take his own journey into suborbital space aboard his Blue Origin space craft.