At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

This made Bezos, who took off 9 days later, quite embarrassed.

Just today (US time July 11), has 71-year-old Sir Richard Branson finally take its own aircraft company Virgin Galactic’s space dreams into space, leading the first horse Minsk and Bezos, become three The first rich man among the giants to complete the “Space Edge Flight” in his own spaceship.

The time of Branson’s space trip can be said to be very embarrassing for Bezos. Just after Bezos official announced that he would take a short space tour on the Blue Origin spacecraft on the 20th of this month, Branson temporarily announced at the last minute that he would be more than a week ahead of Bezos, on July 11. Japan officially embarked on a short trip to the edge of space and cut Bezos head-on. 

It is worth noting that by 2022, Virgin Galactic will officially launch its commercial space flight business. The queue of passengers preparing to take the company’s flight to space has reached the length of “hundreds of people.” Each ticket is up to US$250,000.

Previously in 2014, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo space plane (the same spacecraft used in this test flight) experienced a serious accident. One astronaut died unfortunately and the other was seriously injured. It wasn’t until two years ago that Virgin Galactic’s space plane successfully entered space for the first time. Every missed minute and every failed test flight will significantly affect the performance and long-term development of this private aerospace company.

Founder Sir Richard Branson can’t wait any longer. He decided to go to heaven in person to prove to potential passengers and the world that Virgin Galactic is ready!

A flight worthy of history

At around 7:30 in the morning on July 11, local time, Virgin Galactic’s VSS “Unity 22” spacecraft successfully took off at the “U.S. Spaceport” in New Mexico, USA, and rushed to a suborbital height of 80 kilometers .” The edge of space”.

After a total of about an hour’s voyage, we safely returned to the launch site “U.S. Spaceport”-the first commercial space launch site in the United States that Virgin Galactic invested heavily in, constructed and participated in operation.

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

“U.S. Spaceport” image source: Virgin Galactic official website

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

The U.S. Spaceport is located in the desert of New Mexico

At 6 am local time, riding a road bike and escorted by two SUVs, Branson arrived at the launch site at 6 am local time.

From the video, the old man, who is already a little slow, is so excited about rushing into space.

Branson’s identity in the crew is the ride-hailing experience officer, responsible for checking whether the experience as a passenger meets the requirements (simply speaking, it’s cool enough, safety, etc.) during the entire voyage, and what else can be improved The place.

For this glorious day, he experienced the same standard of physical fitness and flight training as the other astronauts in the crew. No one’s life is more important than another’s. However, the fact that the boss personally carried out the flight still gave a key meaning to this mission.

It is worth mentioning that before the official departure, Branson received a face-to-face blessing from an old friend. This old friend, no one else, is his “competitor”: SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk. The appearance of Musk brought a hint of “heroes cherish each other”.

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

Image source: Branson’s Twitter account

It has been half a century since humans first entered space. Advances in mathematics, calculations, and engineering have made human space activities more frequent, even to the extent that private space companies are allowed to enter the field. But to this day, human spaceflight is still a very dangerous activity. Billionaire Branson, who is about to celebrate his 71st birthday, decided to personally participate in this key test flight for his own company.

Virgin Galactic initially hoped to acquire technology licenses from other private aerospace companies, and it first found SpaceShipOne, which was funded and developed by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Later, Branson felt that independent development was more reliable, so he found Burt Rutan, the well-known aircraft design expert behind SpaceShipOne, and co-founded a spaceship research and development company called The Spaceship Company (later fully acquired by Virgin Galactic).

Today, Branson’s VSS Unity (Unity 22) spacecraft, named SpaceShipTwo, inherited the original design of SpaceShipOne:

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

SpaceShipOne design image source: SpaceShipOne

You may have seen the transportation method of the space shuttle lying on the back of the modified large passenger plane, and the take-off method of the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity that Branson took this time is very similar to the “backpack” of the space shuttle.

Before takeoff, the spacecraft needs to be fixed under a “White Knight” catamaran developed by Scaled Composite. After taking off, the “White Knight” took SpaceShipTwo to a predetermined altitude of 46,000 feet (about 14,000 meters), accelerated to about 0.5 Mach, unlocked, and the engine ignited, thus realizing its own real “take off”:

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

VSS Unity is fixed under “White Knight” Screenshot source: NASA live

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

Image source: Virgin Galactic

In the picture below, we can see the process of unlocking and igniting Unity from the White Knight:

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

The animation is taken from the live broadcast of Virgin Galactic

After the ignition, Unity accelerated from Mach 0.5 to a maximum speed of Mach 2.7 in one minute, breaking the sound barrier twice. At the same time, the fuselage adjusted its posture upward, quickly pierced through the atmosphere, and entered the “edge of the universe” at an altitude of approximately 85 kilometers.

In this short minute, Branson and his crew members will experience the wonderful physical experience brought by this rapid transition from acceleration of up to 3.5G to zero gravity.

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

The animation is taken from the live broadcast of Virgin Galactic

After reaching the predetermined limit height, Unity fully deployed its wings, adjusted its posture again, performed a rollover, and aimed the right side (the side where Branson was) to the ground. The most beautiful scenery is at this very moment for this space trip with a fare of up to 250,000 US dollars.

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

(Of course, passengers sitting on the other side also have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the earth.)

As you can see, Branson (the seat closest to the camera) has excitedly opened the seat belt and floated freely in the cabin, feeling the wonderful experience of zero gravity :

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life
At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

The animation is taken from the live broadcast of Virgin Galactic

Good moments are always short, and so is space travel. About two minutes after being unlocked and ignited, Unity began to descend rapidly from the highest point and returned to the atmosphere.

In the earphones of Branson and his crew members, the new song New Normal from R&B singer Khalid began to play. In order to contribute to the global live broadcast of the test flight, Virgin Galactic also invited Khalid and the well-known late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert.

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

(Koukou Xiong also prepared a lot of video materials, all of which were clips of the two who invited Branson to appear on the show in the past few years…)

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

Back to the spaceship. After entering the atmosphere, Unity will retract its wings again and begin the final process of gliding and landing. The plane spaceship unique aerodynamic design, the pilots only need to adjust the attitude of the fuselage, you can control the rate of decline of the spacecraft, the spacecraft can even make multi-gliding in the air for a while, so that passengers and more to enjoy the subject for a space travel ” Aftertaste “.

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

After unlocking the ignition 15 minutes and 18 seconds, unity spacecraft eventually landed safely parked on the runway, “Spaceport America” successfully completed the cross-age test flight mission .

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

Before the start of this critical space journey, Jeff Bezos also complained that Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft did not exceed the Kármán line, which is 100 kilometers above sea level, the recognized starting point for space.

However, in any case, Virgin Galactic took off from the ground this time to the “edge of space” at an altitude of 85 kilometers, and then returned to the ground for a total of one hour of wonderful experience, which is still basically the only thing ordinary people rely on. The Next Best Thing is the closest thing to “real” space travel, which is affordable.

Not to mention, Virgin Galactic is ahead of Bezos’ private aerospace company Blue Origin this time.

Billionaire’s juvenile space dream

Many friends who have read Bezos’ entrepreneurial story probably know that when Bezos was a young man, he was a science enthusiast. He also studied physics at the beginning of his undergraduate course (and later switched to computer). But few people know that, under Richard Branson’s high profile, the billionaire actually had a dream of space since he was a child.

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

Image source of Branson when he was young: Virgin Group’s official website

Branson, 71, was born in London, England. When he was a boy , he had poor academic performance. Later, at the age of 18, he went to start a business, after three years, he became the owner of a record shop. In 1972, he turned the record store into a music label, and signed the controversial and later master bands such as Sex Pistol and The Rolling Stones.

By chance, in 1981, because the flight to Puerto Rico was canceled suddenly, the angry Branson chartered a plane by himself and also brought passengers who were canceled on the same flight. After that trip, he calculated for a while and found that there was a profit in this matter, so he considered joining the civil aviation industry.

In 1984, Branson formally established Virgin Atlantic-not a local low-cost airline, but a serious intercontinental airline. Branson’s transition has been quite smooth, and he is moving steadily towards a billionaire. But in his heart, the spark of his youth has never been extinguished.

In an interview on a TV variety show in the early years, Branson answered the phone call from the audience. An audience member asked him: Sir, do you want to be able to enter space one day? Branson replied: Madam, as if you have a spaceship, then I really would like and your peers.

Since then, Branson has repeatedly transformed into new industries, including telecom operators and media. But he never forgot the dream of his youth. No one asked what happened to the audience who called him back then. But what we know is that Branson, who started from scratch, already has the capital to realize his dream.

On September 25, 2004, Branson formally established the space travel company Virgin Galactic, with the mission to provide convenient and comfortable space travel and supporting services for anyone who can afford air tickets.

“I truly believe that space belongs to all of us. After 16 years of research, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic has been at the forefront of the commercial aerospace industry, and we are ready to open space to the whole world. Humans, let the world completely change from then on,”

“It is one thing to dream to make it easier for all human beings to go to space; it is another thing to collectively turn this dream into reality through a strong team.” Branson said.

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

Virgin Galactic spaceship photo image source: Virgin Galactic

Interestingly, in NASA’s live broadcast of the test flight, an audience member left a very interesting homophonic slogan:

Richard Branson starts his career making records. Now he’s breaking them.

What does Branson’s story tell us?

Bravely chase by a dream to think about it, there is a chance to achieve.

At the age of 71, Richard Branson has no regrets in his life

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