Posts tagged with "Richard Branson"

Virgin Galactic Sweepstakes offers two ‘out-of-this-world’ free seats on 2022 spaceflight

July 13, 2021

Following Sunday’s successful Unity 22 mission, with billionaire owner Richard Branson aboard, Virgin Galactic is giving away two free seats on the aerospace company’s first commercial suborbital spaceflight slated for 2022.

According to a report by Fox Business, the giveaway, in partnership with charity fundraiser Omaze, will allow the winners to experience microgravity at the edge of space aboard Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity.

“Until now, most people could only dream of venturing beyond Earth. Now, we are incredibly excited to team up with Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic, and Space for Humanity to give two everyday citizens a chance of going to space, Omaze co-founder and CEO Matt Pohlson said in a statement, adding,  “Omaze was founded on democratizing access to out-of-reach experiences. It’s an honor to advance this ideal to space travel while partnering with an organization dedicated to democratizing space for the better of all humankind.”

Interested individuals can make a charitable donation on Omaze between now and August 31. The proceeds will be given to Space for Humanity, a non-profit which aims to “expand access to space, train our leaders of tomorrow and contribute to a culture of interconnectedness.”

Submissions for the sweepstakes will close on September 1, with winners expected to be announced around September 29, Fox Business reports.  Entry information is available here.

In addition to the seats, winners will be given an all-expensespaid trip to New Mexico and a tour of Spaceport America by Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson.

Research contact: @FoxBusiness

Richard Branson prepares to blast off with Virgin Galactic … and beat Jeff Bezos to the edge of space

July 12, 2021

Over the years, brash British billionaire Richard Branson has embarked on all sorts of wild adventures, from the dangerously ill-conceived to the merely zany—from attempting a powerboat speed record across the English Channel in seas so choppy it “was like being strapped to the blade of a vast pneumatic drill,” as he wrote in his memoir; to crossing the Pacific Ocean in a hot-air balloon and crashing on a frozen lake in Canada, The Washington Post reports.

Now, the one-man publicity circus—still very much alive and kicking at age 70—is preparing for what would be the biggest stunt of all: A rollicking ride to the edge of space in the spaceplane developed by Virgin Galactic—the venture he founded in 2004 that he vowed would become the world’s first “commercial spaceline.”

Virgin Galactic announced this week that Stephen Colbert would host the live-stream broadcast of the event—now scheduled for Sunday, July 11, although weather and last-minute technical problems could force a delay.

And the company also intends to use Branson’s flight as a catalyst to reopen ticket sales for its space tourism business, the Post reports. It had previously cost $250,000 for the flight, which would allow passengers to experience a few minutes of weightlessness. But when the tickets go back on sale, the price is expected to jump to about $500,000, according to analysts.

Like Branson’s previous exploits, the flight from Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America in New Mexico will be as much theater as adventure, designed to sell tickets as well as to celebrate the commercialization of human space exploration. But that is to be expected from the man who made his start by signing the Sex Pistols to his record label and who’s lived by the motto, “screw it, let’s do it.”

The company had planned to fly a test flight with four crew members in the cabin, and then fly Branson. But after Jeff Bezos announced he would fly on his company’s spacecraft to the edge of space on July 20, Branson jumped the line and said he would board Virgin Galactic’s next space flight and — conditions permittingbeat Bezos by nine days.

In making the announcement, Branson simultaneously reveled in the attention it generated while downplaying any competition. He told The Washington Post, which Bezos owns, “I completely understand why the press would write that.” He added that it was just “an incredible, wonderful coincidence that we’re going up in the same month.”

But when asked about a rivalry with Bezos on CNBC, he couldn’t help himself, saying, “Jeff who?”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Jeff Bezos and brother to be on Blue Origin’s first human space flight

June 8, 2021

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in an Instagram post on Monday, June 7, that he will be one of the inaugural travelers on Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spacecraft, during a flight scheduled for launch from West Texas on July 20, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Bezos said that his brother, Mark Bezos, also will be among the crew members in the pressurized capsule, which has room for six astronauts.

Named after NASA’s Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space, New Shepard is a reusable suborbital rocket system designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Kármán line—the internationally recognized boundary of space.

The vehicle is fully autonomous. Every person onboard is a passenger—there is no “pilot” for the 11-minute flight, which will return to Earth via parachute.

“I want to go on this flight because it’s a thing I’ve wanted to do all my life,” Bezos said in a video posted to Instagram. “It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me.”

Bezos, who has said that he will step down as Amazon’s chief executive on July 5 after leading the company for more than two decades, has invested heavily in Blue Origin, contributing as much as roughly $1 billion in some years. He will continue to hold the title executive chairman after his lieutenant Andy Jassy becomes CEO.

Blue Origin has said it aims to support widespread commercial activity in space in the future. In addition to its space-tourism efforts, Blue Origin is also working on rockets that could launch payloads for NASA.

The passenger list for Blue Origin’s July flight also is set to include the winner of a charity auction that will conclude this month. The auction boasted nearly 6,000 participants and the highest bid is at $2.8 million, Blue Origin said Monday.

According to the Journal, Blue Origin’s efforts to commercialize spaceflight parallel those of SpaceX—the spaceflight company led by Tesla  CEO Elon Musk.

SpaceX last year became the first company to launch NASA astronauts into space.

Both companies competed to design a new capsule that could land astronauts on the moon before NASA awarded the contract to SpaceX in April. Blue Origin has filed a petition challenging the contract award.

Billionaire Richard Branson also has invested in commercial spaceflight. Virgin Galactic Holdings, a company he founded that also plans to offer space tourism, went public in a 2019 merger with a blank-check company.

Research contact: @WSJ

Scores of companies back away from Saudi business over Khashoggi

October 25, 2018

A number of businesses and investors are backing away from doing business with Saudi Arabia until more answers are provided on the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whom Turkish officials believe was murdered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

According to an October 23 report by Axios, many of the world’s largest prospective financial deals involve Saudi Arabia and are predicated on trust in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) as a reformer. Meanwhile, there is speculation that MBS was personally involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

In the three weeks since Khashoggi’s disappearance, several companies and individuals have pulled out of Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative (FII), a massive conference nicknamed “Davos in the Desert.” The meeting is being hosted by MBS and the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund from October 23-25 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.

The conference is described by The New York Times as “an extravagant embodiment of Crown Prince Mohammed’s dream to modernize Saudi Arabia and wean it off its reliance on oil by 2030.

Indeed, the Times reported, on the first day of the meeting, MBS presented a blueprint for Neom, a $500 billion planned city that would rise from the desert as a futuristic Zanadu of high-tech jobs and robot workers.

Unfortunately, fewer investors than planned will be on hand to support that vision. According to Axios, the following business, financial, and government invitees have pulled out (in chronological order):

And the list goes on, including about three dozen more high-profile names—among them, J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, Ford Chairman Bill Ford, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga, Sotheby CEO Tad Smith, HSBC CEO John Flint, Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam, Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, President of the New York Stock Exchange Stacey Cunningham, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, U.K. Trade Secretary Liam Fox, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, and Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra.

In addition, several major Saudi supporters who are based in the United States and Europe have cut ties with the Kingdom:

  • Richard Branson, billionaire entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group, announced on October 18 that he would suspend his directorships of two Saudi tourism projects and is suspending talks of a $1 billion investmentwith the country, saying: “What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi Government.”
  • Ernest Moniz, former energy secretary under President Obama, is suspending his involvement advising Saudi Arabia on its $500 billion smart city project.
  • Neelie Kroes, a Neom board member and former vice president of the European Commission, said she would suspend her role in the project until more is known.

The conference already has started, with fewer speakers scheduled to be heard.

Research contact: zach.basu@axios.com