Richard Branson will blast off TOMORROW as Virgin billionaire aims to beat Amazon's Jeff Bezos in space race
RICHARD Branson will blast off TOMORROW as the Virgin billionaire aims to beat Jeff Bezos in the race to fly into space.
The British mogul, 70, is aiming to beat the former Amazon boss to the stars in what has been dubbed the "billionaire space race".
Sir Richard's space tourism firm Virgin Galactic announced on July 1 that its CEO will be on their July 11 flight to the edge of space.
"After more than 16 years of research, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands at the vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to open space to humankind and change the world for good,” Sir Richard said in a statement.
"I’m honoured to help validate the journey our future astronauts will undertake and ensure we deliver the unique customer experience people expect from Virgin."
The flight will be Virgin Galactic's fourth test spaceflight and its first mission with a full crew of six on board.
On Sunday, they will be sent in the company's passenger rocket plane, the VSS Unity, on its first fully crewed test flight to the edge of space.
The gleaming white spaceplane will be borne by a twin-fuselage carrier jet dubbed VMS Eve to an altitude of 50,000 feet.
🔵 Read our Richard Branson space flight live blog for the latest updates…
Unity will then be released and soar by rocket power in an almost vertical climb through the outer fringe of Earth's atmosphere.
During the monumental flight, the crew will experience a few minutes of weightlessness – before making a gliding descent back to Earth.
The entire flight is set to last 90 minutes, carrying two pilots and four "mission specialists," Branson among them.
Sir Richard has long talked up his desire to go up on one of Virgin Galactic's first flights.
The company was founded in 2004 with the aim of taking paying tourists to space but has been hampered by years of delays.
Sir Richard's announcement came just days after Bezos revealed that he and his brother would be heading to space on July 20 onboard a ship built by Blue Origin, a space tourism firm founded by Bezos in 2000.
The "Unity 22" mission will liftoff from Virgin Galactic's spaceport in the New Mexico desert on July 11, according to the company.
It is expected to begin at 2pm BST tomorrow.
That could change last minute, however, if weather conditions are deemed unfavourable in the lead up to launch.
For the first time, Virgin Galactic will livestream the test flight for people to watch along at home.
The livestream will be available to watch on Virgin Galactic.com as well as the firm's official Twitter, YouTube and Facebook pages.
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