Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson rode his company’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane into the skies over New Mexico today and did something that no billionaire has done before.
In the company of five crewmates, Branson became the first billionaire to take a rocket-powered ride on his own company’s spaceship, rising above the 50-mile mark that the Federal Aviation Administration considers the boundary of outer space.
Only two other billionaires are in the same class: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who flew to New Mexico to see Branson off and has reportedly reserved a ticket for a Virgin Galactic flight; and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who’s getting ready for a suborbital space ride on the rocket ship built by his Blue Origin space venture.
At its peak, the VSS Unity plane rose to an altitude of 53.5 miles (86.2 kilometers). On the way down, Branson said it was the “experience of a lifetime.”
“I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid,” he told the crowd at New Mexico’s Spaceport America during a post-landing ceremony. “Honestly, nothing could prepare you for the view from space. The whole thing was just magical.”