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Virgin Galactic downplays talk about Branson vs. Bezos space race

Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos
How critical may the suborbital area race between Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos get? (GeekWire Images)

Would Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson attempt to steal a march on Blue Origin (and Amazon) founder Jeff Bezos when it comes all the way down to which billionaire flies first on their very own suborbital spaceship?

There’s been some buzz about that query within the wake of this week’s announcement that Bezos shall be among the many first individuals to journey to the sting of area in Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule on July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon touchdown.

Branson was fast to tweet his congratulations when Bezos’ plans got here to mild, but additionally advised followers to “watch this area.”

And at present, Parabolic Arc’s Doug Messier — who’s lengthy reported on Virgin Galactic’s ups and downs from its dwelling base in Mojave, Calif. — quoted an unnamed supply as saying that the company was working on a plan to put Branson aboard its VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo rocket aircraft for a visit past 50 miles in altitude over the Fourth of July vacation weekend.

Messier quoted his supply as saying the July four plan was contingent upon receiving licensing approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier has mentioned Branson could be on one of many upcoming SpaceShipTwo flights, going down as early as this summer season. However the anticipated plan is for VSS Unity to do a take a look at flight with a lower-ranking crew of “mission specialists” first, and fly the boss on the journey after that.

Virgin Galactic’s take a look at pilots flew VSS Unity above the 50-mile mark most recently on May 22. The corporate considers 50 miles to be the boundary of area, in accordance with the FAA’s definition for awarding business astronaut wings. In distinction, Blue Origin focuses on the 100-kilometer-high (62-mile-high) mark, the internationally accepted area boundary that’s often called the Karman Line.

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In an emailed assertion, Virgin Galactic mentioned it was nonetheless “within the means of analyzing the info from our profitable Could 22nd flight.”

“As beforehand introduced, we count on to finish the ultimate take a look at flights this summer season by means of to early fall,” the corporate mentioned. “Right now, now we have not decided the date of our subsequent flight.”

The assertion didn’t explicitly reject the concept mission planners could be trying into the choices for giving Branson an early area journey.

Nevertheless, a supply who’s accustomed to the scenario surrounding the flight take a look at schedule mentioned claims about sending Branson into area through the July four weekend could be false data, primarily based on the present insurance policies for analyzing take a look at knowledge and assessing flight security. The supply spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved to debate the scenario publicly.

In the meantime, the net public sale for an open seat on the primary New Shepard flight to hold individuals is constant, with the excessive bid reaching $three.eight million at present. The public sale will attain its climax on Saturday with a reside bidding session that shall be streamed through Blue Origin’s website beginning at 9:45 a.m. PT. Bids will registered confidentially, and Blue Origin says the identification of the winner shall be revealed “within the weeks following the public sale’s conclusion.”

Proceeds from the public sale shall be donated to the Club for the Future, Blue Origin’s nonprofit academic basis. The winner would fill a seat alongside Jeff Bezos and his brother, Mark Bezos, plus as much as three different spacefliers who would presumably be Blue Origin workers or VIPs.

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It’d be fairly one thing if Branson — or, for that matter, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk — ended up with the excessive bid. Would it not be an excessive amount of to think about the billionaire area rivals using collectively just like the stars of a sci-fi buddy movie?