Richard Branson Seeks to Be First Billionaire in Space

by mcardinal

Justin Bullock, FISM News


The private space race between billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos will come to and end this month as Branson has announced that he will be the first of the two men to reach suborbital space. Bezos is scheduled to be a passenger on his Blue Origin New Shepard ship into suborbital space on July 20, but Branson announced on Twitter that he will be taking his Virgin Galactic VSS Unity ship into suborbital space on July 11.

Virgin Galactic released a statement giving the details of the mission. Both Branson and Bezos have been in competition for the title of first billionaire in space since 2004. However, it should be noted that both Branson and Bezos’s trips will be suborbital meaning that they will still be flying within the earth’s orbit. Some space travel purists have maintained that due to this fact neither venture is a true space flight. Critics have also been quick to point out that the line demarcating the beginning of space is very much up for debate if you consider suborbital space to be true space.

As a result there may be an additional element of competition regarding which billionaire will travel higher in their respective aircraft. Bezos’s Blue Origin has indicated that they will travel to the Kármán line which is an imaginary boundary 62 miles above sea level. Branson’s Virgin Atlantic has not indicated how high they will travel, however the VSS Unity has only ever reached approximately 55 miles above sea level just under the Kármán line.

Ultimately, both of the billionaires’ flights will be the first of many suborbital flights as both men aspire to provide regular suborbital rides to passengers around the world. The flights will also serve as significant markers for the new fascination with space and potential space travel that has gripped the world in recent years. Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and Elon Musk’s Space X, are all on the forefront of new dreams of regular human space flight and even colonization throughout the solar system.