While billionaire Richard Branson is preparing to take off in the stratosphere on Sunday, Virgin Galactic is pulling all the stops to make the founder’s first flight a spectacle worth setting up for.
The late showStephen Colbert is hosting a livestream of the event and singer-songwriter Khalid announced he debuts with a new single live on stage after the spacecraft landing. Branson has, too teased plans to “announce something very exciting to give more people the chance to become astronauts” when he returns to Earth.
Livestream begins at 9 A Sunday at Virgin Galactic’s Twitter, Facebookand Youtube. The company website is also running a countdown to start.
Branson will join three crew members and two pilots on Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered space plane, VSS Unity, for its first fully-fledged flight test to the edge of space on Sunday. If all goes smoothly, the flight is expected to last approximately 90 minutes based on previous tests, both launch and landing at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
This mission marks VSS Unity’s 22nd test flight and Virgin Galactic’s fourth crew mission beyond Earth’s atmosphere, according to a company announcement. More importantly, however, it will give Branson boasting of having beaten his rival Jeff Bezos in space. The billionaire Amazon founder is scheduled to take the journey aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket on 20 July.
It is worth noting that Bezos first announced these plans back in June. Branson was originally scheduled to travel to space on a later flight, but last week he declared the launch window had moved up to July 11, just nine days before Bezos. Of course, the two spaceflights are completely independent, Branson said Washington Postand just calls it a “wonderful case that we go up in the same month.”
Part of me hopes that when Branson makes it to the venue this weekend, it will finally put this thinly veiled cock-measuring contest to rest. But then I remember that this launch is only the first of many milestones in the so-called billionaire spaceflight to issue a claim in the aerospace industry. Yippee …