He has dreamed of going into space since childhood – and has spent 17 years and more than £ 720 million trying to get there.
Today, at 14.00 British time, Sir Richard Branson is ready to achieve a life ambition when he embarks on his Virgin Galactic rocket ship and blasts 55 miles to the edge of space at three times the speed of sound.
Speaking to The Mail on Sunday hours before the lift-off from Spaceport America in New Mexico, the 70-year-old maverick tycoon revealed that he will take family photos and a Pride flag with him – but not a camera.
‘The last piece of advice I have received from other astronauts is not to take a camera, not take notebooks, just look out the window and look back at this incredible world we live in and take it all in,̵
Richard Branson has spent 17 years and more than £ 720 million trying to get to space. He described his spouse Joan (both pictured), 73, as “the most understandable wife on earth.”
Kl. 14 Sir Richard Branson will reach his goal by boarding his Virgin Galactic rocket ship (above) and being blown up 55 miles to the edge of space at three times the speed of sound
The 70-year-old maverick tycoon revealed that he wants to take family photos and a Pride flag with him – but not a camera. Image: Virgin Galactic’s passenger rocket plane, VSS Unity
‘As a kid, I always dreamed of building a spaceship to go in space on,’ he said. Pictured: Sir Richard on the New York Stock Exchange before the Virgin Galactic trade in October 2019
Billionaire Virgin founder described her spouse Joan, 73, as ‘the most understanding wife on earth’.
‘As a kid, I always dreamed of building a spaceship to go in space on,’ he said. ‘It used to be cardboard boxes, then it got a little bigger: toy spaceships.’
Sir Richard’s Virgin Galactic venture has already had several setbacks, including a death in 2014 when pilot Michael Alsbury was killed on a test flight after Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise spaceship broke up midway.
But the 71-year-old business magnate next Sunday said he was ‘fit and healthy’ and reduced the risk, insisting that his previous escapades such as crossing the Pacific in a hot air balloon in 1991 had been more dangerous.
‘That [space] is not the most risky adventure I have ever done because we have had 800 engineers working on it, while for our balloon and sailing adventure we only had three or four, but it is certainly the most extreme, the most exciting, ‘he said .
Sir Richard will be taking photos of his parents, children Sam and Holly, five grandchildren and friends’ loved ones.
Sir Richard’s Virgin Galactic (pictured) venture has been hit by setbacks, including a fatal crash in 2014, when pilot Michael Alsbury was killed on a test flight after a spaceship broke up in the middle of the flight.
But the founder of Virgin Galactic (pictured on the NYSE in October 2019), who turns 71 next Sunday, said he was ‘fit and healthy’ and reduced the risk before launch
Sir Richard (pictured with crew members in the VSS Unity rocket plane) takes pictures of his parents, children Sam and Holly, five grandchildren and a friend’s loved ones
The tycoon (pictured) competes with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk in what has been called the ‘billionaire space race’
The Pride flag will remember the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016.
He explained: ‘Someone who lost a loved one in the Orlando massacre asked if I would do it. We also have many, many friends who are gay, and I know people who lost friends there. ‘
Sir Richard’s late mother Eve had reserved space on a Virgin Galactic spaceflight, but died of Covid-19 in January at the age of 96.
He said she would be there ‘in spirit’ and has given her name to the mother ship VMS Eve, which will carry the VSS Unity spacecraft to an altitude of 50,000 ft before pointing vertically upwards and accelerating to 2,300 miles per hour.
Tycoon competes with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk in what has been called the ‘billionaire space race’.
He’s going to hit Mr Bezos’ maiden voyage by nine days.
Virgin Galactic, founded in 2004, aims to launch 90-minute commercial spaceflight next year.