Branson To Go To Space By March


Sir Richard Branson hopes to become the second billionaire to go to space in early 2021 to kick off his space tourism business. Branson, the owner of Virgin Galactic, will be on the first flight after the operation is certified by the FAA to take “space tourists” to the edge of space in a reusable six-passenger spacecraft. Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté spent 12 days on the International Space Station in 2009, a trip that set him back $35 million. Those flying with Virgin Galactic will pay about $200,000 for flight to about 62 miles in altitude, experience weightlessness for a few minutes and flutter back through the high atmosphere before gliding to a landing.

A passenger has already flown on the Virgin Galactic spacecraft Unity. The head of safety and training for the company, Beth Moses, took the trip with two pilots last year. In early 2021, two pilots will fly, followed by a flight with two pilots and four company employees as passengers, the final test flight before the anticipated certification.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. Most of Richard Branson’s world-record aviation stunts in the past were to get free publicity for his various non-aviation ventures, and that worked well. (He was not a rated pilot on any of those vehicles.)

    This flight is similar in terms of PR, but also to demonstrate that somebody can safely come back, or not.

    I followed the Virgin Airline corona-related shutdown in Australia, and it looks like they Virgin was ineligible for govt. bailouts since they were substantially foreign-owned or registered. Maybe somebody can provide an update on how that turned out.

    • I don’t know what the actual costs of his ‘stunts’ ran to, but I suspect that they were well beyond the (admittedly low) limits of my own wallet.

      How does this equate to ‘free’ publicity?

      • Most of his stunts were in 2-person balloons or airplanes, which cost less than 10% of the equivalent PR budget.

        If you’re too poor to afford a 2-person balloon, I guess you need to work harder, no?