At Virgin, passengers sit in a space plane suspended below a carrier plane. Together, they took off on Thursday from the Spaceport America space base in the state of New Mexico. After takeoff, at about 15 kilometers altitude, the plane jettisoned the spacecraft. The engine was turned on and the plane rose to an altitude of about 100 kilometers at three times the speed of sound. At the edge of space, the crew members remained weightless for a few minutes. They saw the curvature of the earth and the boundary between our planet and the infinity of the universe. The aircraft then returned to Earth by gravity.
In July 2021, Branson himself went into space with one of his company’s rocket-powered planes. The eccentric businessman hoped this would be the start of a profitable project. Virgin wanted to sell the space tickets for several hundred thousand dollars each. During Branson’s flight, however, the plane was found to have veered off course. This is why the space program was interrupted for a while.
Branson competes with Virgin Galactic against Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. They all want to sell tourist flights in space. Musk has sold a tourist flight to the moon to a Japanese billionaire. SpaceX and Blue Origin are also involved in the US government’s space program. On Wednesday, the curtain finally fell for another of Branson’s aerospace companies, Virgin Orbit.
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