BREAKING NEWS: Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic takes off

THE private space tourism company of Sir Richard Branson has launched its first flight into space, with the billionaire on board.

The VSS Unity spaceplane has taken off from the Spaceport America runway in New Mexico carrying Sir Richard Branson, two pilots, and three experts.

The Unity 22 mission will be the company’s first to carry a full crew  but will be the 22nd flight test for rocket plane VSS Unity.

Once the VSS Unity spaceplane reaches its maximum altitude, the rocket will turn and the crew will glide to a landing.

Virgin Galactic is expected to complete several more test flights before beginning commercial launches when it will be selling tickets for $250,000 (€210,500) each.

Dubbed the VSS Unity, it will be lifted to about 50,000ft by a specially made airplane, WhiteKnightTwo, before detaching from the mother ship, firing its hybrid rocket engine and climbing beyond Earth’s atmosphere into space.

Sir Richard will then enjoy a few minutes of weightlessness and unbeatable views through Unity’s 12 windows, before re-entering the atmosphere and gliding back down to a conventional landing between one and two hours after launch.

This is the flight that Virgin hopes to begin selling to space tourists as early as next year, with 700 customers already having bought tickets from the company.

Customers are thought to include several celebrities and Sir Richard Branson has spoken of his desire to make travel open to tourists.


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Written by

Sally Underwood

Sally Underwood is a former aide to several former cabinet members and now contributes her views on Parliament’s ever-changing shape in her column for the Euro Weekly News.

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