Richard Branson, whose Forbes-estimated net worth is nearly $6 billion, is celebrating the first VSS Unity test flight with a full crew. In other words, Branson successfully reached space, albeit briefly.
With the feat, Branson is now the first person to experience several minutes of weightlessness (while also getting a look at the curvature of our planet) from the comforts of their own ship.
The Virgin Group founder was joined in the cabin for Sunday’s mission (an archived livestream of which is available below) by Chief Astronaut instructor Beth Moses, Lead Flight Operations Engineer Colin Bennett, and Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations Sirisha Bandla. Piloting the Unity were David Mackay and Michael Masucci.
“I have dreamt about this moment since I was a child, but nothing could have prepared me for the view of Earth from space,” Branson said. “We are at the vanguard of a new space age. As Virgin’s founder, I was honored to test the incredible customer experience as part of this remarkable crew of mission specialists and now astronauts. I can’t wait to share this experience with aspiring astronauts around the world.”
As Branson explained, the Virgin goal is to make space “more accessible to all” in the near future.
“For so long, we have looked back in wonder at the space pioneers of yesterday. Now, I want the astronauts of tomorrow to look forward and make their own dreams come true,” Branson said.
Over the weekend, the charity fundraising platform Omaze announced a collaborative contest with Branson in which two seats will be given away for a future Virgin Galactic commercial flight. The sweepstakes will help support Space for Humanity, a nonprofit aiming to democratize space. For more info, including official rules and additional entry info, click here.
“Can’t wait to join the club!” he said Sunday.
In June, petitions to stop Bezos from returning to Earth received thousands of signatures.