Richard Branson Celebrates Apollo 11 Moon Mission with Spaceflight on Launch Anniversary
That flamboyant Brit, Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group that controls over 400 companies, wants to fly into space during the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 mission on July 16, 1979. This historic mission landed the first humans on the Moon five days later.
The American astronauts, Commander Neil Armstrong, and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the Moon on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours later on July 21 at 02:56:15 UTC. Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later.
Always one for making history, Branson now fancies himself taking a historic step in his storied career by flying into space aboard his own spaceship, the VSS Unity spaceplane, which reached suborbital space for the first time on Dec. 13, 2018.
Even before this epoch-making achievement, Branson had made known his intent to travel into space aboard his spaceplane. The daredevil Branson plans to take the trip to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is already space according to accepted definitions, as the first passenger of VSS Unity.
Branson previously said he planned to travel aboard VSS Unity as its first passenger. Virgin Galactic will eventually turn VSS Unity into a vehicle for space tourists.
VSS Unity will transport paying customers into space (or LEO) and back on suborbital flights, thereby advancing the commercial space industry and opening space to more people.
Branson also said his children will likely follow him into LEO among the first passengers to travel with Virgin Galactic to space.
"Virgin Galactic will be the first (in space)," said Branson.
Last week, Branson again restated his cherished aim of flying into space on July 16 during an event in Washington DC to celebrate Virgin Galactic's successful spaceflight on Dec. 13.
"It's tremendously exciting and, you know, I would ideally love to be able to go up on the actual anniversary," said Branson. "You never know my luck, I'm working towards that.
During this event, Branson also donated the rocket motor from SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum's collection.
Virgin Galactic made history with its Dec. 13 flight. This was the first crewed commercial flight of a vehicle designed to carry paying passengers to reach space. The flight also made history by carrying the world's most powerful hybrid rocket used in crewed flight.