Cover Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Galactic, gives the thumbs up after ringing a ceremonial bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Photo: Getty Images)

With their successful launch, Virgin Galactic may start bringing paying customers into space from as early as next year

Over the weekend, Richard Branson finally achieved his lifelong dream of reaching space when he boarded his Virgin Galactic space plane, Unity, with five other crewmates and hurtled into space with them for a 15-minute joyride. 

The Unity managed to reach an altitude of 86km over the New Mexico desert and that meant that all onboard got to experience three to four minutes of weightlessness and that they also got to witness the curvature of Earth.

The trip, which was highly publicised, was a commercial plug for Virgin Galactic which is reportedly going to try taking paying customers on space trips from as early as next year.

See also: Virgin Galactic And NASA Team Up To Begin Sending Travellers To Space


Branson's groundbreaking trip to space was tracked by news outlets all over the world and watched by about 500 people in person, including Branson's family—all of whom cheered and jumped up and down as the Unity touched down safely on Earth after the quick but momentous ride. 

In fact, apart from some issues with the video transmission, the flight was "perfect" and the ship was "pristine", according to Mike Moses, a top executive at Virgin Galactic.

Branson's flight into space comes as a bit of a surprise to many as it was originally scheduled to only take place later this year. However, when Jeff Bezos announced that he would be going to space in his own rocket on July 20, Branson moved his flight date up. 

True enough, many billionaires have been pumping in billions of dollars to try to get themselves into space and to make space tourism a possibility.

Find out more about 4 other billionaires who are vying to get into space.


1. Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos will probably be the next billionaire to reach space after he announced that he would be making his first trip to space in July on his own space shuttle, New Shepard, which was created by his company, Blue Origin.

Bezos and Branson have certainly gone head to head here with the billionaires scheduling their launches into space just nine days apart from each other.

In fact, the two businessmen have also been in competition over how high one has to fly to actually be in space as well as how eco-friendly their space shuttles are. This is all while publicly denying that they are in any sort of competition. 

Currently, Bezos' trip to space is scheduled for July 20.

See also: Jeff Bezos Will Officially Start Selling Tickets To Space

2. Elon Musk

Elon Musk, the chief executive officer of Spacex, looks set to be able to launch himself into space in the near future.

In fact, the billionaire recently decided to sell all his properties and to move into a small, US$50,000 home so that he could focus all his resources on his mission to get to Mars as well as on his other companies.

While no date has been set for when he will actually blast off, Spacex has made great progress manufacturing rocket engines as well as conducting research into thrusters and other components. 

See also: There Could Be A Luxury Hotel In Outer Space As Soon As 2024


3. James Cameron

James Cameron has always been obsessed with space. In fact, when he was a child, he recounted many instances where he cried watching space shuttles launch. 

In 2012, Cameron invested in Planetary Resources which is a company that aims to use robot ships to mine asteroids for metals such as platinum and gold. He has also worked with NASA on Mars related projects and talked about hoping to shoot a movie in space one day. 

In fact, in 2018, he admitted in an interview that he had spoken to Tom Cruise about doing a space film many years back but that it never came to be. 

Here's hoping that Cameron one day achieves his dream to visit space.

4. Robert Bigelow

Robert Bigelow is the founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace which aims at creating space structures that are habitable.

They have been in business since 1999 and to date, Bigelow has invested over US$350 million into the research, design and construction of these structures and has even worked with Nasa on a number of contracts. He has also successfully launched two subscale spacecraft.

As he continues his work into the exploration of space, there remains hope that one day, he may be able to visit space himself.


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