Business magnate Richard Branson on Thursday revealed that he will be flying to space on a mission powered by his company Virgin Galactic on 11 July, nine days before the same endeavor is planned by Jeff Bezos.
"I’ve always been a dreamer. My mum taught me to never give up and to reach for the stars. On July 11th, it’s time to turn that dream into a reality aboard the next Virgin Galactic spaceflight, in the company of this brilliant crew of mission specialists", Branson stated.
The billionaire also said that the flight to space will be live-streamed, teasing that "something very exciting" will be announced after the space mission is completed.
I’ve always been a dreamer. My mum taught me to never give up and to reach for the stars. On July 11, it’s time to turn that dream into a reality aboard the next @VirginGalactic spaceflight https://t.co/x0ksfnuEQ3 #Unity22 pic.twitter.com/GWskcMSXyA— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 1, 2021
The mission is named "Unity 22", and will feature Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor at Virgin Galactic, Colin Bennett, Lead Operations Engineer, and Sirisha Bandla, Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations.
Most notably, the flight is scheduled to take place before the 20 July flight of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, apparently granting Branson a chance to outstrip Bezos as the first billionaire into space.
Bezos' flight will be operated by his space company, Blue Origins, and he will be accompanied by his brother, the winner of a $28 million charity auction, and female aerospace pioneer Wally Funk, who was part of the Mercury 13 program.
The endeavour of the Amazon founder has triggered harsh reaction from some, who moved to sign a petition that asks Bezos to not return from space. Branson's announcement has not inspired similar petitions.