The founder of Virgin Galactic said in an interview with CNN Business on Friday that his surprise announcement that he would make his long-awaited trip next week on a Virgin Galactic spacecraft was a coincidence and had nothing to do with Bezos going into space. Last month, Bezos said he would fly into space on July 20th. He will board a rocket built by his own space company Blue Origin.
Sir Richard Branson, a prominent British billionaire and entrepreneur who owns the Virgin Empire, announced late Thursday that he would try to fly into space on July 11. It’s only nine days before the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, made his own space flight. But even as he overtook Bezos, Branson loudly rejected the idea that it was a “race.” He even invited his fellow billionaire to come and watch the takeoff. “I don’t know for sure when exactly Jeff Bezos will take off, he may decide to fly before us, but honestly I don’t see it as a space race. I’d like Jeff to come and see our flight when it takes place. “I’d like to go and watch him take off – and I think we’ll both wish him success,” Branson said.
Since the early 2000s, Branson and Bezos have been vying to develop, test and launch suborbital rockets that can transport wealthy thrill-seekers on short trips into outer space into Earth orbit. Their efforts have long been shaped as a “space race for billionaires.” The name of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is also often thrown into the “space race” game, but the orbital rockets created by SpaceX are far more powerful than the suborbital rocket rockets built by Branson and Bezos. Therefore, they require more infrastructure to take off.
Elon Musk, for his part, doesn’t talk much about his personal space ambitions – except that “he would like to die on Mars – as long as he’s not in shock.” In interviews, Branson has repeatedly said he is not interested in a “space race.” But his plan to go into space on July 11 was not part of the “road map” set out earlier this year by Virgin Galactic. According to the British billionaire, any assumption that Virgin Galactic could compromise safety in an attempt to bring Branson into space before Bezos is “completely wrong.”
“You have to be aware that Virgin Galactic has people on every space flight.… The fact that I’m ready to fly with these people shows confidence,” Branson said. “I think the least the company’s founder can do is get in there and fly with his people.” The Virgin Galactic spacecraft, called the SpaceShipTwo, has been in development for more than a decade and operates very differently from Blue Origin’s fully autonomous rocket, which rises vertically from the launch pad. There are almost no merchants who take orders by writing on a piece of paper
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