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This article was published on July 2, 2021


Richard Branson will snatch away Bezos’ ‘first billionaire in space’ title

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Richard Branson will snatch away Bezos’ ‘first billionaire in space’ title
Ivan Mehta
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Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

Space company Virgin Galactic’s founder Richard Branson is set to become the first billionaire to escape the earth and reach space. He’s set for a test flight on July 11 — nine days before retiring Amazon chief Jeff Bezos does the same.

Branson will take flight in VSS Unity along with a crew of six, consisting of pilots and space mission specialists. This is the company’s fourth test flight, but the first one with a full crew on board.

The firm said it’ll live stream the event across various platforms to hype this up — and probably rub the success in Bezos’ face. Last month, it got approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to take passengers to space. The company plans to launch space flights for paying customers in 2022.

Just like any other billionaire, Branson uttered cliched lines like “I’ve always been a dreamer. My mum taught me to never give up and reach for the stars.”

This flight will grant bragging rights to the Virgin Atlantic owner over Bezos, who’s set to reach space with his brother and a mysterious paying customer on July 20. Bezos’ Blue Origin flight will also feature Mary Wallace Funk, an 82-year-old-pilot, who was barred from going to space owing to gender bias in the 1960s.

In an interview with CNBC, when asked about this space race with Bezos, Branson jokingly said, “Jeff who?”

In a statement, Branson said, “I truly believe that space belongs to all of us.” I can’t wait to take the bus to the moon, Richard.

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