Daily US Times: Billionaire and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has successfully reached the edge of space on board his Virgin Galactic rocket plane.
The UK entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Galactic flew high above New Mexico in the US in the vehicle that his company has been developing for 17 years.
The trip was the “experience of a lifetime”, he said.
Mr Branson returned safely to Earth just over an hour after leaving the ground.
In a press conference following the flight, he said: “I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, but honestly nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space. The whole thing was just magical.”
The trip also makes Richard Branson the first of the new space tourism pioneers to try out their own vehicles, beating Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and SpaceX’s Elon Musk.
The height reached by Sir Richard in the rocket plane, known as Unity, was 53 miles (282,000ft; 85km).
The business magnate and adventurer was accompanied on the mission by the vehicle’s two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, and three Galactic employees – Colin Bennett, Beth Moses and Sirisha Bandla.
The latter trio and Sir Richard were presented with commercial astronaut wings after the flight by former space station commander and Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield.
Sir Richard billed the flight as a test of the space tourism experience the billionaire expects to begin selling to customers from next year.
He said: “I have had my notebook with me and I’ve written down 30 or 40 little things that will make the experience for the next person who goes to space with us that much better. The only way sometimes you can find these little things is to get in a spaceship and go to space and experience it for yourself.”