Posts tagged with "Virgin Galactic"

What will it cost for tourists to fly on Blue Origin?

July 21, 2021

Jeff Bezos, the richest human in the world, went to space on Tuesday, July 20along with a small group that also comprised the oldest person ever to fly so high and the youngest.  It was a brief jaunt—rising more than 65 miles into the sky above West Texas—in a spacecraft that was built by Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, reports  The New York Times.

“Best day ever,” Mr. Bezos exclaimed once the capsule had settled back into the dust near the launch site following the 11-minute journey.

The other three passengers were Bezos’ brother, Mark; Oliver Daemen, a Dutch student who was Blue Origin’s first paying passenger; and Mary Wallace Funk, a pilot who in the 1960s was among a group of women who passed the same rigorous astronaut selection criteria employed by NASA but who, until Tuesday, never had the chance to board a rocket.

For the first flight, Blue Origin auctioned off one of the seats with the proceeds going to Mr. Bezos’ space-focused nonprofit, Club for the Future. The winning bid was $28 million, an amount that stunned even Blue Origin officials, far higher than they had hoped. Blue Origin announced it will distribute $19 million of that to 19 space-related organizations — $1 million each.

The 7,600 people who participated in the auction provided Blue Origin with a list of prospective paying customers, and the company has started selling tickets for subsequent flights.

Blue Origin has declined to say what the price is or how many people have signed up, but representatives of the company have told the Times that there is strong demand.

“Our early flights are going for a very good price,” Bob Smith, the chief executive of Blue Origin, said during a news conference on Sunday, July 18.

During the auction for the seat on Tuesday’s flight, the company said that auction participants could buy a seat on subsequent flights. It has not publicly stated what it charged those who placed bids, or how many seats have been sold.

Ariane Cornell, director of Astronaut and Orbital Sales at Blue Origin, said that two additional flights are planned for this year. “So we have already built a robust pipeline of customers that are interested,” she said.

Virgin Galactic, the other company offering suborbital flights, has about 600 people who have already bought tickets. The price was originally $200,000 and later raised to $250,000, but Virgin Galactic stopped sales in 2014 after a crash of its first space plane during a test flight. Virgin Galactic officials say they will resume sales later this year, and the price will likely be higher than $250,000.

Research contact: @nytimes

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

23andMe is going public and Richard Branson is involved

February 5, 2021

Going public always was in 23andMe’s genes. Now, it’s happening, thanks to a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) created by Richard Branson’s London-based Virgin Group.

Founded in 2006, 23anMe offers DNA testing for inherited traits, genealogy, and possible congenital risk factors. The consumer genetics and research company announced on February 4 that it soon will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange, thanks to a merger with a Branson’s SPAC.

The deal, worth an estimated $3.5 billion, is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2021. The ticker symbol will change to ME, according to the companies.

“We have always believed that healthcare needs to be driven by the consumer, and we have a huge opportunity to help personalize the entire experience at scale, allowing individuals to be more proactive about their health and wellness. Through a genetics-based approach, we fundamentally believe we can transform the continuum of healthcare,” Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe’s CEO and cofounder, said in a written statement, in which she called Branson “a fellow industry disruptor.”

Branson was an early investor in the Sunnyvale, California-based DNA-testing company. He founded Virgin as a mail-order business in 1970 and subsequently founded Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Galactic. He was knighted in 1999.

23andMe currently boasts more than 12 million customers and has collected three billion phenotypic data points. Its human genome research has led to 150-plus peer-reviewed studies in scientific journals.

Research contact: @23andMe

Most Americans are not up for space tourism

June 8, 2018

It’s summertime and many of us want to “get away from it all”—but not so far away that we see Earth in our rear-view mirrors. While a host of companies are trying to make space tourism a consumer trend—among them, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musks’s SpaceX—most U.S. adults say they would not want to go up to (and past) the wild blue yonder, based on findings of a poll conducted by Pew Research Center and released on June 7.

About four-in-ten Americans (42%) say they would definitely or probably be interested in orbiting the Earth in a spacecraft in the future, while roughly six-in-ten (58%) say they would not give it a go.

Interest in space travel is highest among those who are young at heart and men. A majority (63%) of Millennials are on-board with the idea; however only minorities of Gen Xers (39%) and Baby Boomer (27%) would be interested. About half of men (51%) say they would be interested in orbiting the Earth in a spacecraft, compared with one-third of women (33%).

Among the 42% of Americans who said they would be interested in traveling into space, the most common reason given (by 45% of respondents) was to “experience something unique.” Smaller shares of this group said they would want to be able to view the Earth from space (29%) or “learn more about the world” (20%).

Among the 58% who said they would not want to orbit the Earth aboard a spacecraft, equal shares said the main reason was that such a trip would be either “too expensive” (28%) or “too scary” (28%) or that their age or health wouldn’t allow it (28%).

Men were more likely than women to say the main reason they would not be interested in orbiting the Earth in a spacecraft was that it would be too expensive (37% vs. 22%), but women were more inclined than men to say they would not want to go because it would be too scary (34% vs. 18%).

The respondents also talked about their expectations for space tourism in the next 50 years. The public is split over whether this will happen, with half saying that people will routinely travel in space as tourists by 2068 and half saying this will not happen. Americans are more skeptical about the possibility of colonies on other planets – an endeavor championed by space entrepreneurs Elon Muskand Jeff Bezos. About one-third of Americans (32%) say people will build colonies on other planets that can be lived in for long periods by 2068.

Research contact: info@pewresearch.org