Welcome to the space race, billionaire edition. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, is set to launch into space on Sunday, weather and technical checks permitting.
If the mission is successful, Branson will beat competitor Jeff Bezos, who recently stepped down as CEO of Amazon, by days. Bezos’ own rocket company, Blue Origin, plans to fly him to space on July 20.
Branson will launch from Sierra County in New Mexico and Bezos from a desert location north of Van Horn, Texas, which is over 100 miles east of El Paso.
Here’s what we know about both space flights and the possible implications for commercial space travel.
How to watch Branson’s space flight
A live stream of VSS Unity’s flight is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. ET Sunday. It will be broadcast on Virgin Galactic’s website and social media platforms. TheLas Cruces Sun-News, part of the USA TODAY Network, will also carry the stream online.
Branson flying VSS Unity plane, Bezos launching in New Shepard rocket
The two launches into space will take place in very different spacecrafts. Branson will fly Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity, a spaceplane that will launch from the air after being carried to a high altitude by the aircraft VMS Eve.
From there, the Unity will use rocket power to fly to the boundary of space. Branson will be part of a crew of six, consisting of two pilots and four mission specialists.
Bezos, meanwhile, will visit space in a capsule on a rocket.
When Blue Origin’s New Shepard…