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British billionaire Sir Richard Branson flew to the lower edge of space and back to planet Earth on Sunday 11th July 2021 in the first fully crewed flight from his private space tourism firm Virgin Galactic.
The company’s spacecraft VSS Unity launched above the skies of New Mexico with two pilots guiding the vehicle carrying the billionaire founder and three Virgin Galactic employees. VSS Unity – after being released by a carrier aircraft called VMS Eve above 40,000 feet – fired its rocket engine and accelerated to faster than three times the speed of sound in a climb to the edge of space.
VSS Unity then performed a slow backflip in microgravity, when the Virgin Galactic crew was weightless and floated around the spacecraft cabin. The spacecraft reached an altitude of 86.1 kilometers (53.5 miles, or about 282,000 feet).