Here's what you need to know about Richard Branson's journey into space

(CNN Business) – Richard Branson You will boldly go where no space baron has gone before Sunday, when you step into your rocket company’s supersonic space plane, Virgo Galaxy.

Branson’s short fun ride has been in the works for more than two decades. He founded Virgin Galactic in 2004 with the goal of creating a winged spacecraft capable of carrying up to eight people, including two pilots and six passengers, on rocket-powered flights of more than 50 miles above Earth, something the US government has set. The United States considers the limit set by outer space.

Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity, as the space plane is called, has conducted more than 20 test flights, three of which have reached the edge of space and converted five Virgin Galactic employees into astronauts. But Branson’s trip would make him the first billionaire founder of a space company to actually travel to space on a vehicle he helped fund.

Branson’s flight will take off in the early hours of Sunday, July 11, weather permitting. Virgin Galactic will publish a live broadcast, which will be hosted by the comedian Stephen Colbert, as confirmed by a CNN spokesperson, that same morning. Rolling Stone reports that Grammy-nominated singer Khaled will also start a new song at the landing site after Branson’s long-awaited comeback.

CNN Business will also share the live broadcast and publish a live blog with updates.

This is what you need to know before the big event.

Who will go?

Branson will bring three of his mates on the trip. between them Is also:

  • house of Moses, She holds the title of Senior Astronaut Trainer for Virgin Galactic and will be responsible for training all of the company’s future clients. I’ve already traveled to space in VSS Unity once for a Test flight in 2019. Moses, a flight engineer, will not only accompany the flight. You’ll make sure your fellow travelers are safe and Virgin Galactic collects all the data you need, because this flight will be a test flight after all.
  • Colin Bennett, the company’s chief operations engineer. Bennett will help evaluate the overall experience and ensure that cabin equipment is in top condition.
  • Sirisha Bandla, Vice President of Government Affairs and Research at Virgin Galactic. Bandla will be on board on science missions. Virgin Galactic frequently conducts experiments to take advantage of the microgravity environment, and on this trip Bandla will be responsible for a University of Florida research project that involves handling “hand-held tubes,” according to the company.
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Virgin Galactic says Branson’s mission will be to use his “notes from his flight training and spaceflight experience to improve the journey of all future astronauts,” according to the company.

What will happen?

When most people think of space flight, they think of an astronaut orbiting the Earth, floating in space, for at least a few days.

That’s not what Branson will do on VSS Unity, the only working SpaceShipTwo spacecraft that Virgin Galactic has in its arsenal, though the company is building others.

The VSS Unity itinerary is a road trip, set approx. Instead of taking off vertically from the launch pad like most rockets, the space plane takes off from a runway near Virgin Galactic’s “Spaceport” in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, Sunday morning. (Old town in Hot Springs, New Mexico, changed its name to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, as part of a publicity stunt in the 1950s for a radio show, and the name has stuck since.)

VSS Unity will be attached to a massive mother ship called the WhiteKnightTwo, which looks like two elegant aircraft connected at the tips of its wings. It takes about 45 minutes for the mother ship to travel the course and slowly ascend with the VSS unit to about 15,000 metres. Then, when the pilots give the green light, the SpaceShipTwo breaks loose from between the two bodies of the WhiteKnightTwo and ignites its rocket engine, soaring straight up and roaring above the speed of sound.

Virgin Spaceship Unity and Virgin Mothership Eve soar through the sky on their maiden voyage in September 2016.

The VSS module is a sub-orbital space plane, which means it won’t be fast enough to escape Earth’s gravity. Instead, it will be launched at more than three times the speed of sound, about 3,700 kilometers per hour, and more than 80 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. At the top of the flight path, Branson and his companions will briefly experience weightlessness. It’s like an extended version of the weightlessness you experience when you hit the top of the roller coaster, before gravity pushes the car — or in Branson’s case — the space plane back to Earth.

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After a minute, the engine shuts down and the spacecraft and passengers are suspended in microgravity, while the SpaceShipTwo spins on its belly, providing passengers with panoramic views of Earth and the black void on the surface.

To wrap up the flight, SpaceShipTwo uses a system called “feathering” to raise its wings, to mimic the shape of a badminton.And the To re-steer the vehicle when it begins to roll back to the ground. Then he lowers his wings as he glides back to the landing strip.

A group of journalists will be able to attend the launch event. CNN Business will post live updates here and host live TV coverage.

How is this different from what SpaceX and Blue Origin do?

Bezos’ Blue Origin has taken an entirely different approach than the suborbital space tourism rocket. The company’s New Shepard vehicle is a capsule and rocket system that takes off vertically from the launch pad, sending passengers on an 11-minute flight at an altitude of 100 kilometers before the capsule deploys parachutes to do so. Gently descend.

But when the two companies become commercial, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic will be direct competitors. Both target the thrill-hungry demographic of the wealthy, who are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to experience a supersonic shock and a few minutes of weightlessness.

Elon Musk, another billionaire from space, is running a very different operation than Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic will introduce this month.

First of all, SpaceX manufactures orbital rockets. Orbital missiles need to accumulate enough power to hit at least 17,000 miles per hour, or orbital velocity, which essentially gives the spacecraft enough force to continue orbiting the Earth instead of being immediately pulled by gravity. Here’s how SpaceX can Putting satellites into orbit astronaut transport To and from the International Space Station.

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Although Branson’s other company, Virgin Orbit, has put a rocket into orbit, and Bezos’ Blue Origin plans to get there with a rocket called New Glenn, neither company made headlines or caused the same amount of fuss in the world. space sector such as SpaceX.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft begins its return to Earth 0:49

What risks are there?

Space travel has historically been risky. Although the stakes are not necessarily astronomical in the case of Branson’s flight into suborbital space, Virgin Galactic has spent much of the past decade conducting test flights with its spaceplanes.

However, every time a human hits a missile, there are dangers, and it seems Branson decided it was worth it for him.

“You have to remember that Virgin Galactic has people on every space flight…the fact that you are willing to fly with these people is indicative of confidence,” Branson said to Rachel Craneby CNN Business. “I think the least a founder can do is go up and fly with his people.”

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