BILLIONAIRE Sir Richard Branson is poised to blast off to the edge of space – before a safe return to Earth.
But when will the entrepreneur take off with Virgin Galactic, and how can you watch it live?
Read our Richard Branson space flight live blog for the latest updates…
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Richard Branson with his Virgin Galactic team[/caption]
What time is the Virgin Galactic launch?
Sir Richard’s space tourism firm Virgin Galactic will be flying its boss to space on July 11.
The British billionaire will be taking off with three Virgin Galactic mission specialists: Chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett, and government affairs VP Sirisha Bandla.
Branson’s “Unity 22” mission will liftoff from Virgin Galactic’s spaceport in the New Mexico desert on July 11, according to the company.
We’re expecting blast-off at 9.00am ET (2.00pm BST) with the flight lasting approximately 1.5 hours.
But that could change last minute if weather conditions are deemed unfavourable in the lead up to launch.
The mission will see Sir Richard fulfil a lifetime’s ambition to go to the edge of space.
He first announced his intention to build a space plane in 2004 with the hope of starting commercial flights in 2007.
Those hopes though were dashed with the project plagued by technical issues and a fatal crash of a development flight in 2014.
Sir Richard told the BBC: “I’ve wanted to go to space since I was a kid, and I want to enable hopefully hundreds of thousands of other people over the next 100 years to be able to go to space.
“And why shouldn’t they go to space? Space is extraordinary; the Universe is magnificent. I want people to be able to look back at our beautiful Earth and come home and work very hard to try to do magic to it to look after it.”
Should the flight prove to be a success, Sir Richard hopes to be able to offer commercial flights in 2022.
Who is joining Richard Branson on Virgin Galactic spaceflight?
Sir Richard Branson will be accompanied by a crew of experts on the flight to the edge of space.
The team, announced on the Virgin Galactic website, comprises:
- Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor at Virgin Galactic.
- Colin Bennett, Lead Operations Engineer at Virgin Galactic.
- Sirisha Bandla, Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations at Virgin Galactic.
- Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic.
The pilots for the mission are Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci flying VSS Unity and CJ Sturckow and Kelly Latimer flying VMS Eve.
How can I watch Virgin Galactic launch live?
For the first time, Virgin Galactic will livestream the test flight for people to watch along at home.
You can also follow along with the latest using our Richard Branson liveblog.
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