Party time: Celebrities mark Richard Branson's space flight
British billionaire Richard Branson threw himself a party in the desert to mark his successful first flight into space.
Guests cheered and Grammy-nominated singer Khalid debuted a new single: British billionaire Richard Branson threw himself a party in the desert to mark his successful first flight into space.
Heading to Spaceport America with @VirginGalactic tomorrow morning for the world premiere of my single “New Normal” at the launch of #Unity22 with @RichardBranson. Watch it live on https://t.co/9UqwiMG8me. I’ll be performing around 8:10 AM PST/11:10AM EST. See you guys there pic.twitter.com/TCjaFYQeEn— Khalid (@thegreatkhalid) July 11, 2021
The eccentric septuagenarian founder of Virgin Galactic arrived before dawn at Spaceport America, built in large part at his initiative, in the US state of New Mexico.
The sun rose on the building’s futuristic glass facade, located in a region that boasts 340 days of good weather per year.
British billionaire Richard Branson flew into space Sunday aboard a Virgin Galactic vessel, a voyage he described as the "experience of a lifetime" -- and one he hopes will usher in an era of lucrative space tourism https://t.co/gwMw0TLDj2 pic.twitter.com/Gvwae1VRi0— AFP News Agency (@AFP) July 11, 2021
A small crowd of invited guests, baking under the hot sun, cheered as the space crew climbed into a black SUV and headed for the rocket, which sat at the end of a 3.6 kilometre (2.2 miles) track. On board were Branson, two pilots and three other Virgin Galactic employees.
Also on hand, though unseen by the cameras, was SpaceX founder Elon Musk, another billionaire with galactic aspirations.
A TikTok star, a celebrity television presenter and a Canadian astronaut were among those poised, ready to commentate on the momentous event.
Space is for all humanity, which is why we're giving YOU the chance to win 2 seats on one of the first @virgingalactic flights to space! ENTER NOW - all donations go to non-profit @spacehumanity: https://t.co/sjz1KV5f6z @omaze #Unity22 pic.twitter.com/pBzutUPJBl— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 12, 2021
After the launch, the huge carrier plane climbed through the air for about 50 minutes. The guests took refuge under a white tent, eating passed hors d’oeuvres while children ran about.
But they soon rushed back out again to witness the main event: the spaceship released from the plane, igniting its engine for a supersonic ascent to shouts of joy from the Earth-bound watchers.
“Welcome to space!” the commentator announced a few minutes later, just before the ship began its descent.
Branson’s face filled the big screen, streamed in from the rocket: “I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars. Now I’m an adult in a spaceship!” he said to the crowd.
As the ship came back to Earth, Khalid took to the stage. Millions of listeners tuned in to hear him debut his newest song, “New Normal” — a wink towards future space tourism.
Once the landing was complete and the rocket parked only a few meters from the stage, Branson arrived.
After hugging his family, he stepped up on the platform to give out their astronaut wings, official Federal Aviation Administration pins shaped like wings to symbolise their new status as astronauts.
I was once a child with a dream looking up to the stars. Now I'm an adult in a spaceship looking down to our beautiful Earth. To the next generation of dreamers: if we can do this, just imagine what you can do https://t.co/Wyzj0nOBgX #Unity22 @virgingalactic pic.twitter.com/03EJmKiH8V— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 11, 2021
The consummate showman, he also unveiled a competition for space enthusiasts to win two free tickets on Virgin Galactic flights through the website Omaze — and a personal guided tour of Spaceport America.
Space is for everyone. You could make history and win 2 seats on one of the FIRST Virgin Galactic commercial spaceflights! Proceeds will benefit our mission to expand access to space for all of humanity.— Space for Humanity (@SpaceHumanity) July 11, 2021
ENTER NOW: https://t.co/H7ycjPmiVp#VirginGalactic #RichardBranson #Omaze pic.twitter.com/XGkgcTvnuo
“I promise lots of chocolate,” he joked, comparing himself to Willy Wonka, the Roald Dahl character. “We’re here to make (space) accessible to all.”
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