Washington, Jul 1 (EFE).- British businessman Richard Branson has announced that on July 11 he will board a Virgin Galactic flight to space, beating out Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who has scheduled his trip for the 20th.
If successful, Branson, rather than Bezos, will become the first billionaire to be part of a manned mission to space on a spacecraft that is partly self-funded.
“I’ve always been a dreamer. My mum taught me to never give up and to reach for the stars. On July 11, it’s time to turn that dream into a reality aboard the next @VirginGalactic spaceflight,” he said on Twitter.
The Unity 22 mission will have two pilots and four crew members, including Branson, on its first fully crewed flight test.
The three crew members who will accompany Branson are Virgin Galactic employees, chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett and a company vice president of government affairs and research operation Sirisha Bandla.
Two additional test flights are planned before Virgin Galactic expects to commence commercial service in 2022.
“I truly believe that space belongs to all of us. After more than 16 years of research, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands at the vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to open space to humankind and change the world for good,” Branson said.
In early June, Bezos announced his intention to travel into space aboard an aircraft from his company Blue Origin, which has been competing with Virgin Galactic in the aerospace passenger transport race since the early 2000s.
Bezos will travel his brother, Mark Bezos, the 82-year-old Wally Funk and a fourth passenger who paid $28 million at auction and whose name has not yet been revealed. EFE