British billionaire Richard Branson finally got his trip into space on Sunday.
Virgin Galactic’s space plane, the VSS Unity, landed safely in New Mexico after climbing more than 50 miles above the plane (80.4 kilometers) in its first fully equipped test flight. You can check a live event recording at the company YouTube channels.
“We’re here to make the space more accessible to everyone,” founder Virgin Galactic said shortly after the flight. “If you’ve ever had a dream, it’s time to make it a reality.” I want to end by saying welcome to the dawn of a new space age. ”
The launch began at 10:30 am ET, a 90-minute delay from its initially scheduled time thanks to strong winds the night before it interfered with ground operations. The aircraft of Virgin Galactic carrier VMS Eve (named for Branson’s late mother) towed the VSS Unity to its high-altitude launch point at about 50,000 feet (15,240 meters). After separating, the space plane started its own hybrid-powered engine and climbed to a height of 53.5 miles (86.1 kilometers) before descending again toward a runway that landed in Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic has said in a press release.
At the top of its flight path, the crew, which included two pilots and three mission specialists alongside Branson, experienced a few minutes of fattening.
“I was once a kid with a dream looking at the stars,” Branson said during the broadcast as his teammates could be seen floating behind him and celebrating. “Now I’m an adult on a spaceship … watching our beautiful and beautiful Earth. For the next generation of dreamers: If we can do this, just imagine what you can do.”
The approximately one-hour flight marks a huge milestone for Virgin Galactic, which aims to begin commercial operations by next year. Other aspiring billionaire astronauts took part in the excitement. Branson he took a picture with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk ahead of Sunday’s launch, which has has already bought a ticket for his own journey into space aboard the Virgin Galactic plane. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, which will make its first trip to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard race on July 20, congratulated Branson and his co. on Instagram for the successful flight, adding: “I can’t wait to join the club!”
Virgin Galactic also offers a chance for anyone to earn a trip aboard their space plane. Following his return to Earth on Sunday, Branson announced a partnership with charity fundraising platform Omaze opens a spell which will send the winner and an invitation to space on VSS Unity free of charge. If you try to buy tickets for the same flight, it will cost you about half a million dollars since they will go for about $ 250,000 a pop. The winner will also receive a tour of Spaceport America led by Branson himself. The fight, which will last until September 1, will raise money for Space for Humanity, a non-profit organization that works to democratize space travel.