Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson Aims to Fly to Space Before Jeff Bezos

Richard Branson wears the SpaceShipTwo flight suit. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Fourth of July weekend could include some extra fireworks this year.

Updated with statement from Virgin Galactic on June 8, 2021 at 10:53 a.m. PDT.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It looks like Richard Branson could beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos to space next month.

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. The flight is contingent upon obtaining an operator’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).


Jeff Bezos, Brother to Join Auction Winner on First Crewed New Shepard Flight in July

Blue Origin announced on Monday that founder Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark will join the winner of an auction on the first crewed suborbital flight of the company’s New Shepard vehicle from west Texas on July 20.

The fully reusable rocket and capsule system has flown 15 suborbital flight tests without anyone aboard with a record of 14 successes and one partial failure. The latter came on the systems’ first flight when the rocket crashed during descent after separation from the crew capsule. The capsule on that flight landed safety under three parachutes. New Shepard’s rocket stages successfully landed on the other 14 flight tests.

The auction for the open seat began on May 5; it will conclude with live bidding on Saturday, June 12. The current high bid is $2.8 million. Anyone interested in bidding must register online by June 10. Blue Origin said nearly 6,000 people have placed bids from 143 countries.

Money raised will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, whose mission is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and to help invent the future of life in space.