Reaching a new frontier, Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, becomes one of the first people to visit space on a suborbital flight designed for commercial use. The flight conducted by Branson’s company Virgin Galactic launched the VSS Unity successfully on Monday morning over New Mexico on its fourth test flight, reports 9 News.
The billionaire brought along family photos and a Pride flag. According to Gay Times, Branson’s decision to bring along the Pride flag was a tribute to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre. When the massacre occurred, it was the deadliest mass shooting in US history. Branson reportedly was asked by the family of one of the victims to bring along the flag to honour those who were lost.
“Somebody who lost a loved one at the [Pulse, Orlando] massacre asked if I would do that. We also have many, many friends who are gay and I know people who lost friends there,” said Branson.
The space journey took Branson’s Virgin Galactic group decades to prepare and hundreds of millions of dollars to bring to fruition. Branson hopes to “democratise” space tourism in the future by offering tickets aboard the flight. “We want to turn the next generation of dreamers into the astronauts of today and tomorrow.”
“If you had ever had a dream, now is the time to make it come true. I’d like to end by saying welcome to the dawn of a new space age.”