Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, may have plans to beat Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos in becoming the first billionaire to fly on their own suborbital spaceship according to a report from the website Parabolic Arc.
"Ever since I was five years old, I've dreamed of traveling to space," Bezos wrote on Instagram earlier this week. "On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend."
Branson tweeted a message of congratulations to Bezos after he announced this week that he and his brother Mark will be onboard the ship next month, but also included a note to "watch this space."
"Many congratulations to @JeffBezos & his brother Mark on announcing spaceflight plans," Branson tweeted on Monday. "Jeff started building @blueorigin in 2000, we started building @virgingalactic in 2004 & now both are opening up access to Space - how extraordinary! Watch this space…"
Parabolic Arc claimed in a report on Monday that "Virgin Galactic is working on a plan to send Branson on a suborbital flight aboard the VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo rocket plane over the July 4 holiday weekend, according to a source who requested anonymity."
This would place Branson's flight two weeks before Bezos', but Virgin Galactic has not confirmed that their founder will be aboard.
"The source said Virgin Galactic formulated the plan as a response to Blue Origin's May 5 announcement of the July 20 flight," Parabolic Arc's managing editor Douglas Messier wrote. "Virgin Galactic's planning started prior to Blue Origin announcement on Monday that Jeff and Mark Bezos would join the auction winner on the flight."
GeekWire reports that a source cast doubt on the possibility of Branson taking part in the test flight due to policies on analyzing and assessing test data and flight safety.
Laura Forczyk, who founded the space consulting firm Astralytical, told Investor's Business Daily on Tuesday that "it's extremely unlikely Virgin Galactic will be ready to fly Richard Branson within the next couple of months. They are working toward that reality but their vehicles have experienced difficulties in the past. They will be more concerned about safety than being the first."
Virgin Galactic announced on Wednesday that "the launch window for Virgin Orbit's next mission to space will open during the last week of June and for the first time ever you will be able to watch it live on YouTube."
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