Truth or Consequences (AP) – Entrepreneur Richard Branson wants to make history on Sunday. If everything goes as planned, he will make his first tourist trip into space with a plane from his private company Virgin Galactic. Branson and his fellow passengers fly to the edge of the atmosphere weightless for a few minutes. They see the curvature of the planet and the boundary between Earth and the infinity of the universe, and then return to Earth with a new experience.
The journey can be followed via livestreams on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, among others. If the mission succeeds, Branson defeats two other billionaires in the race to space. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the richest person on Earth, wants to take a space flight in about a week using a device from his company Blue Origin. Elon Musk (PayPal, Tesla) also wants to sell tourist spaceflights with his company, SpaceX.
The flight is named Unity 22. A private plane takes off from Spaceport America, the Virgin space base near the village of Truth or Consequences in the US state of New Mexico. Under the plane hangs the VSS Unity spaceship. At an altitude of 15 kilometers, the plane launches the spaceship. The engines start, and in just a minute, the VSS Unity reaches an altitude of 80-90 kilometers. The trip is not without danger. In 2014, a Virgin Galactic test plane crashed. The co-pilot, who was killed, switched the wrong link during takeoff.
Flight Unity 22 is home to pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci and four passengers. In addition to Branson, there are three of his closest colleagues. Virgin Galactic calls it one of its last test flights. If Branson agrees to the trial, first paying customers can head to space next year.
Branson and his opponents were arguing over whether Virgin Galactic’s passengers would actually go into space. The boundary at which the Earth ends and space begins is called the Karman Line. Branson follows NASA, which says space begins at an altitude of 80 kilometers. Bezos follows the FAI aviation association, which says the line is at an altitude of 100 kilometers. So Bezos claims that only his clients really go into space.