fter months of build-up, Virgin Galactic ownerRichard Bransoncompleted a brief trip into space yesterday, reaching an altitude of 53.5 miles before returning to earth. Branson was originally scheduled to make the trip later this year but moved himself to an earlier flight.Jeff Bezosis scheduled to ride his own rocket into space on July 20, the 52ndanniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, but Branson says he didn’t move his flight to beat Bezos.
Yesterday’s flight allowed Branson and the other passengers to experience three to four minutes of weightlessness on a flight that lasted about as long as Alan Shepard’s first U.S. spaceflight in 1961. The space plane was flown under an airplane to an altitude of around 8.5 miles, then broke loose and fired its rocket.
Virgin Galactic plans to start taking paying passengers into space next year.