Richard Branson, the British billionaire, adventurer, investor, author, and commercial astronaut has successfully jetted to the edge of space and returned to earth safely on board his Virgin Galactic rocket plane, which has been in development for about 17 years. The flight took off from New Mexico in the United States of America on 11 July 2021 and lasted for just over an hour.
This puts him 9 days ahead of the proposed trip by another billionaire, Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder. Richard Branson can now lay claim to bragging rights as the leader in the new race for suborbital space tourism. Elon Musk's Space X vessel is also warming up for the trip.
A joyous Richard Branson in a press conference following the flight described it as an "experience of a lifetime". He went on to say : "I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, but honestly nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space. The whole thing was just magical."
There has been a rise in the market value of Virgin Galactica since the American Federal Aviation Administration cleared the company to fly customers into space last month and Richard Branson's declaration that he was going to be on the test flight. By Friday last week, the company's market value reached $11.84 billion. The company has also announced it will begin ticket sales after the test flights this summer.