Branson ready to launch into space

Photo: AP Richard Branson and his crew.

British entrepreneur Richard Branson is to launch his own spacecraft into space on Sunday, beating fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos by nine days, news wires reported. He will take off in the VSS Unity with five other astronauts towed by a carrier aircraft from the commercial Spaceport America in the US state of New Mexico.

The mother aircraft is expected to set the spacecraft free at an altitude of about 15 kilometres. The spacecraft then aims to accelerate under its own propulsion to more than three times the speed of sound and reach an altitude of more than 80 kilometres before heading back towards Earth after a few minutes.

The goal of Branson, but also of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, is to enter the space tourism business. Bezos wants to fly more than 100 kilometres above the Earth with his rocket on 20 July.

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