NATIONAL NEWS

Billionaire Richard Branson Reaches Space in His Own Ship

Jul 11, 2021, 9:04 AM | Updated: 9:39 am
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, NM - JULY 10: The tail fins of a Virgin Galactics spaceplanes is seen in fro...
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, NM - JULY 10: The tail fins of a Virgin Galactics spaceplanes is seen in front of Spaceport America, prior to the launch of Virgin Galactics SpaceShipTwo Unity, July 10, 2021 in Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. Scheduled to travel to space aboard VSS unity on the first fully crewed Virgin Galactic flight, are pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, and mission specialists Sirisha Bandla, Sir Richard Branson, Colin Bennett, and Beth Moses. (Photo by David Lienemann/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Lienemann/Getty Images)

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. — Thrill-seeking billionaire Richard Branson has reached space aboard his own winged rocket ship in his boldest adventure yet.

The feat vaults the nearly 71-year-old Branson past fellow billionaire and rival Jeff Bezos, who is planning to fly to space in a craft of his own nine days from now.

With about 500 people watching, including Branson’s wife, children and grandchildren, a twin-fuselage aircraft with his space plane attached underneath took off in the first stage of the flight. Aboard were Branson and five crewmates from his Virgin Galactic space-tourism company.

The space plane then detached from the mother ship at an altitude of about 8 1/2 miles (13 kilometers) and fired its engine, reaching the edge of space at about 53 miles (88 kilometers) up. After a few minutes of weightlessness for the crew, the space plane is supposed to glide to a runway landing.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (AP) — Thrill-seeking billionaire Richard Branson strapped in and set off Sunday on his boldest adventure yet — a bid to reach space aboard his own winged rocket ship.

A successful flight would vault the nearly 71-year-old Branson past fellow billionaire and rival Jeff Bezos, who is planning to fly to space in a craft of his own nine days from now.

With a crowd of more than 500 people watching, a twin-fuselage aircraft with Branson’s space plane attached underneath took off in the first stage of the flight. Aboard were Branson and five crewmates from his Virgin Galactic space-tourism company.

The plan was for the space plane to detach from the mother ship at an altitude of about 8 1/2 miles (13 kilometers), fire its rocket engine and then pierce the edge of space at about 55 miles (88 kilometers) up. After a few minutes of weightlessness for the crew, the space plane was supposed to glide to a runway landing.

The brief, up-and-down flight was intended as a confidence-boosting plug for Virgin Galactic, which plans to start taking paying customers on joyrides next year.

“It’s a beautiful day to go to space,” Branson tweeted in the morning, posting a photo of himself with fellow billionaire and space-tourism rival Elon Musk.

Before climbing aboard, the flamboyant, London-born Branson signed the astronaut log book and wisecracked: “The name’s Branson. Sir Richard Branson. Astronaut Double-oh one. License to thrill.”

Branson wasn’t supposed to fly until later this summer. But he assigned himself to an earlier flight after Bezos announced plans to ride his own rocket ship into space from Texas on July 20.

More than 600 people have already made reservations for a ride into space with Virgin Galactic, founded in 2004.

Bezos’ Blue Origin has yet to open ticket sales or even announce prices, but late last week boasted via Twitter that it would take clients higher and offer bigger windows.

Blue Origin and Musk’s SpaceX both launch capsules atop rockets, instead of using an air-launched, reusable space plane.

Virgin Galactic made three previous test flights into space with a crew.

___

Dunn reported from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 03:  Actors Brad Pitt (L) and Angelina Jolie arrive at the premiere of...
ANDREW DALTON AP Entertainment Writer

Angelina Jolie details Brad Pitt abuse allegations in court filing

A court filing Tuesday from Angelina Jolie alleges that on a 2016 flight, Brad Pitt grabbed her by the head and shook her then choked one of their children and struck another when they tried to defend her.
14 hours ago
surveillance image of possible shooter...
Associated Press

Police say California serial killer ‘on a mission’ in slayings

A California serial killer seems to be "on a mission" throughout the fatal shooting of six men and the wounding of one woman dating back to last year.
14 hours ago
...
Andrew Adams

Relatives scramble to relocate Florida woman to Utah after she lost everything to Ian

Family members were scrambling Tuesday to get a relative in Florida safely to Utah after she lost everything to Hurricane Ian.
14 hours ago
FILE - The logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is seen outside of...
David McHugh, AP Business Writer

OPEC+ makes big oil cut to boost prices; pump costs may rise

OPEC+ alliance makes big cut to world oil production to boost sagging prices, which could mean rising costs at the pump
14 hours ago
FILE: Photos of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins are displayed before a vigil held to honor her at A...
Chloe Melas, CNN

Alec Baldwin reaches settlement with Halyna Hutchins’ family

The family of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer killed on the "Rust" movie set in 2021, and Alec Baldwin have reached a settlement.
14 hours ago
It may take months before some residents get their power restored after Hurricane Ian. (KSL TV)...
Mike Anderson

Homeowners in Florida face unsure future after Ian

The town of Fort Meyers Beach in Florida is unrecognizable after Hurricane Ian tore through the area. It’s now considered to be one of the 25 worst hurricanes to ever hit the US.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Billionaire Richard Branson Reaches Space in His Own Ship