Battle of the Billionaires: All the Details on Richard Branson’s Space Launch and What’s Next

richard branson goes to space

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Branson has dreamed about going to space ever since he was a kid.

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson officially beat Jeff Bezos to the punch in becoming the first billionaire to blast off in his own spaceship…and it was all captured on livestream.

How high did Virgin Galactic fly?

“The whole thing, it was just magical,” Branson said of his flight aboard Unity, which lasted about 90 minutes, and reached 50 miles high at the top of the flight path. Upon landing, Branson stepped onto the runway pumping his fist in the air before running to embrace his family.

Both Bezos and Elon Musk offered their congratulations. Musk praised the “beautiful flight,” while Bezos said that he couldn’t wait “to join the club.” Bezos’ own space company, Blue Origin, is expected to take flight in just 8 days from West Texas. 

Who was on the Virgin Galactic flight?

The pilots were David Mackay and Michael Masucci. Three Virgin Galactic employees joined Branson on the flight to “evaluate how the experience will be for future paying customers,” according to The New York Times.

Branson’s childhood dream

Like Bezos, Branson has dreamed about going to space ever since he was a kid. “I was once a child with a dream looking up to the stars,” he tweeted Sunday. “Now I’m an adult in a spaceship looking down to our beautiful Earth.”

How high will Bezos go in New Shepard?

Bezos has boasted that his own spacecraft, New Shepard, will go higher and briefly top the line internationally recognized as the altitude at which space begins — or roughly 62 miles above sea level. 

And now there’s a sweepstakes to fly with Virgin Galactic

Over 600 people have already signed up for commercial passenger flights that Virgin Galactic plans to kick off next year (prices are roughly $250,000 apiece). And Branson just opened up a new sweepstakes offering two tickets on the same spacecraft that he flew on… 

Meanwhile, Musk has said his company SpaceX plans to launch an all-civilian crew into orbit in September. At least one seat will be raffled off to a lucky winner.