Speed Reads

space race

Virgin Galactic aims to launch Richard Branson into space on July 11

Not so fast, Jeff.

Virgin Galactic announced on Thursday that it will attempt to launch its rocket-powered plane to space on July 11, with billionaire founder Richard Branson on board. This comes after Branson's fellow man with way too much money, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, said he would be on his space company Blue Origin's first crewed flight of its New Shepard rocket ship. That launch is set for July 20, with the New Shepard expected to fly for 11 minutes, traveling more than 60 miles above Earth.

Branson tweeted that he has "always been a dreamer" and his mother taught him to "never give up and to reach for stars." In a separate statement, Branson said that after "more than 16 years of research, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands at the vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to open space to humankind and change the world for good." 

If Branson's mission is successful, he will be the first billionaire to travel to space on a craft they helped pay for, CNN reports. During an earlier interview with the network, Branson denied being engaged in a space race with Bezos, saying that would be "very dangerous." He added that once Virgin Galactic had "every box ticked," he would "go up and then we will invite some of the people who have signed up to go with us — but we honestly don't see it as a race."