Congratulations to billionaire Richard Branson for becoming the first billionaire to travel to space!
The 70-year-old founder of Virgin Group has officially been launched up and out of Earth with Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity. The "Unity 22" mission took place on Sunday, July 11 and marked his company's first test flight with a full crew, per NBC News. The company plans to "start commercial flights with paying customers in 2022."
In becoming the first billionaire to fly to space, Branson beat Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who has been planning to fly aboard his own spacecraft, the New Shepard, on July 20.
Fellow billionaire Elon Musk reportedly purchased a ticket to fly to space on Virgin Galactic himself, with a seat on the spacecraft allegedly costing $250,000, per The Wall Street Journal. He has not commented on the report.
"Elon's a friend and maybe I'll travel on one of his ships one day," Branson told The Sunday Times ahead of his space journey.
Also, in September, Musk's own group SpaceX plans to send its first all-civilian crew into orbit, without him, Reuters reported.
Musk helped send Branson off on Sunday before the launch. Branson shared a pic of the two on Instagram.
"Big day ahead," Branson expressed. "Great to start the morning with a friend. Feeling good, feeling excited, feeling ready."
After arriving at the location of the Virgin Galactic flight's launch, Spaceport America in New Mexico, Branson signed his name into the astronaut logbook, as did crew members Beth Moses, Colin Bennett and Sirisha Bandla. The group of four joyously jumped into the air ahead of their trip. The pilots for the flight were Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci.
"Now I'm looking down at beautiful Spaceport," Branson said, once in space, as seen in a video. "Congratulations to everybody for creating such a beautiful, beautiful plane."