Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spaceplane has detached from its mothership and is independently headed toward space, a livestream from the event showed.
VSS Unity is a suborbital space plane, meaning it won’t drum up enough speed to escape the pull of Earth’s gravity. Instead, it’ll rocket at more than three times the speed of sound — about 2,300 miles per hour — to more than 50 miles above ground.
At the top of the flight path, Branson and his fellow passengers are expected to briefly experience weightlessness.
In this billionaire space race,If the trip goes as planned, he’ll beat Jeff Bezos, who plans to go to space on July 20.
From the time the ship leaves the ground to the time the spacecraft lands back down on it, Richard Branson’s trip aboard Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity should only take roughly an hour.
Unlike traditional space travel where astronauts circle the Earth and float in space for days, Virgin Galactic’s flights are brief, up-and-down trips. But the spacecraft will go more than 50 miles above Earth, which the US government considers to mark the boundary of outer space.