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11 July 2021

Sir Richard Branson hurtling towards space on Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed flight

11 July 2021

Sir Richard Branson is on his way to the edge of space aboard Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed flight.

The launch has been hailed a “landmark moment” for the billionaire businessman, as well as the whole commercial space industry.

Take-off had been delayed by about 90 minutes on Sunday due to the weather overnight at Spaceport America in New Mexico, in the US.

But video streamed live online showed the Virgin Galactic in the air at about 3.45pm UK time, and the aircraft had reached 40,000 feet by 4pm.

Sir Richard is to be the first owner-astronaut to take part in a mission, beating Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who plans to reach space in his own rocket through his Blue Origin company.

On the ground, Michael Colglazier, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said: “This is a landmark moment for Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic graphic (PA Graphics)

“It’s a landmark moment for the new commercial space industry and it certainly is a landmark moment for our founder Richard Branson.”

He said the company’s work on Sunday was dedicated to “opening up space to all”.

Tourists are expected to pay 250,000 US dollars (£180,000) for a spaceflight on Virgin Galactic, which includes four minutes of zero gravity.

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