Musk buys ticket for Branson spaceflight as Virgin chief becomes first to reach edge of space in billionaire race with Bezos

‘Elon’s a friend and maybe I’ll travel on one of his ships one day,’ Branson says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
@GustafKilander
Sunday 11 July 2021 20:16
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Tesla founder Elon Musk has bought a ticket on one of the future spaceflights by rival billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, according to a newspaper report.

Mr Branson became the first in the billionaire’s space race between himself, Mr Musk, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, to successfully touch the edge of space as he jumped aboard a Virgin Galactic flight earlier on Sunday.

The Sunday Times reported that Mr Musk, who owns Virgin competitor SpaceX, has paid $10,000 (£7,000) as a deposit to reserve a seat on one of Mr Branson’s flights. The date for Mr Musk’s flight with Virgin Galactic has not been set.

“Elon’s a friend and maybe I’ll travel on one of his ships one day,” Mr Branson told The Sunday Times.

SpaceX has launched dozens of rockets, some of which have been manned flights, but Mr Musk himself has yet to be on one. The company is planning to launch its first fully private spaceflight this fall.

Mr Bezos plans to reach space in his own rocket via his company Blue Origin on 20 July.

A flight with Virgin Galactic includes four minutes of being in zero gravity and wealthy tourists are expected to pay $250,000 (£180,000) for a ticket.

Blue Origin has claimed that Mr Branson’s journey doesn’t count as a trip to space, as he didn’t get past the Kármán line that commonly is defined as the boundary of space.

Virgin Galactic’s space plane Unity reached a height of around 280,000 feet – 55 miles – before descending back down to Earth.

The flight was a test of the space tourism experience that Mr Branson is anticipating to start selling next year.

“I’ve had my notebook with me and I’ve written down 30 or 40 little things that will make the experience for the next person who goes to space with us that much better,” he said. “The only way sometimes you can find these little things is to get in a spaceship and go to space and experience it for yourself.”

Mr Branson, who turns 71 in a week, became only the second septuagenarian to in space. US Astronaut John Glenn flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery at age 77 in 1998, while he was also a sitting US senator for the state of Ohio.

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