Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are in a race to see who can get to space first. Billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson have both scheduled their space travels this July.
Jeff Bezos vs. Richard Branson: Virgin Galactic Test Flight Details
Both Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson will be flying in their own space vehicles this month as their companies perform another space flight mission.
Virgin Galactic will be having their test flight with Branson along with three Virgin Galactic mission specialists: Chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett, and government affairs VP Sirisha Bandla. Virgin Galactic pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci will fly the company's VSS Unity spacecraft, CNBC reported.
Join us July 11th for our first fully crewed rocket powered test flight, and the beginning of a new space age.— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) July 1, 2021
The countdown begins. #Unity22
https://t.co/5UalYT7Hjb. @RichardBranson pic.twitter.com/ZL9xbCeWQX
On June 25, Virgin Galactic announced that they were granted a license to fly passengers on future spaceflights by the Federal Aviation Administration. The company now targets to begin offering up flights for paying passengers in early 2022.
The company has just launched its most recent spaceflight last May 22, with two pilots on board. This will be the first mission with a crew of four onboard.
The fourth test spaceflight is scheduled for July 11, the company announced.
The plan is to launch the spacecraft, accelerating to more than three times the speed of sound. Then the spacecraft spends a few minutes in microgravity above 80 kilometers altitude, the official boundary the U.S. recognizes.
The spacecraft will slowly flip around and glide back to Earth to land on a runway. Virigin Galactic will host a live stream of the space flight for the first time, and it will be available on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
Blue Origin Space Flight Details
Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, on the other hand ,will be carrying humans aboard the New Shepard on July 20th.
According to The Verge, Bezos will be accompanied by three other passengers: his brother Mark, the passenger who won their ticket in an auction last month, and Wally Funk. The name of the winning bidder who paid $28 million for the trip has not yet been disclosed.
Wally Funk was one of the Mercury 13 pilots who fought to open NASA's early astronaut program to women. Despite their training, none of the 13 pilots actually got to fly to space.
This time, one of them can. Funk, age 82, is considered an iconic aviator in the mid-20th century, The Verge said. She was also notably the top of her class in the privately funded Women in Space Program, otherwise known as the Mercury 13 program.
NASA had opened its astronaut applications up to women in 1976; however, Funk was turned out each of the three times she applied.
It was also fitting that July 20th would be the date of their trip as it is the anniversary of the first U.S. Moon landing. The New Shepard capsule is actually named after Alan Shepard, the first American Astronaut.
Bezos announced that Funk will be the final guest passenger on board New Shepard on an Instagram post yesterday.
There have been no other announcements from the company regarding the details of the flight but interested spectators can expect a live stream of the launch.