Virgin Galactic said it was working closely with the FAA and was “trying to determine the cause of the accident.” The space plane, SpaceShipTwo, flew at an altitude of about 86 kilometers in July. The plane was flown by two pilots. Branson himself and three of his closest companions were the passengers.
At this altitude, the atmosphere slowly fades into the vacuum of the universe. In flight, the plane travels three times faster than sound. At the top, the passengers are weightless for a short time. They float across the plane. Through the windows they see the curvature of the earth, the stars and the dark universe.
After a short while, gravity slowly pulls the space plane back. During that landing, the plane flew a little less than agreed for about two minutes. Virgin Galactic acknowledges this, but says there was no risk to others. According to the company, the plane was slightly deviated from its course by winds at a high altitude.
Virgin Galactic wants to sell space cruises, and Branson wanted to promote that with his own trip. He is in fierce competition with two other billionaires. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who went to space a week after Branson, and Elon Musk (Tesla, PayPal, SpaceX) also indulged in space tourism.
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