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Why it matters: Virgin’s Unity 22 mission will carry a full crew of two pilots and four mission specialists. Among the crew is Richard Branson himself, who will be evaluating the company’s private astronaut experience. It could also mean that Branson will beat spaceflight rival Jeff Bezos to space.
Virgin Galactic, the spaceflight company founded by Richard Branson, has announced that its first fully crewed flight could happen as soon as July 11, pending the weather cooperates and there are no last-minute safety concerns.
Specifically, Branson and the rest of the team will assess the cabin environment, seat comfort, the weightless experience and of course, the views of Earth from the ship. Those aspects may sound trivial, but when you’re paying big bucks for such an experience, you no doubt want it to be as accommodating as possible.
The date – just over a week from now – is noteworthy. Should the mission launch as planned on July 11, it’ll mean that Branson will beat Jeff Bezos to space. The Amazon founder, if you recall, announced last month that he and his brother will be on Blue Origin’s first human spaceflight scheduled for July 20.
Virgin Galactic will livestream the whole event globally across its website and on social media. The action gets started at 9 a.m. Eastern on the day of the flight.