Forget SpaceX! Elon Musk splashes out $250,000 for a seat on a Virgin Galactic flight rather than flying with his own space firm

 SpaceX founder Elon Musk has purchased a ticket to fly to the edge of space with Virgin Galactic, according to the space firm, which is celebrating the launch of Sir Richard Branson into space on Sunday. 

Mr Musk paid a $10,000 (£7,000) deposit to reserve a seat with Branson's space tourism firm, with the final ticket price rumoured to be about $250,000 (£180,000). 

However, a trip with SpaceX is expected to be significantly more expensive, with space tourism firm Axiom Space selling tickets on a Crew Dragon capsule, with a 10-day stay on the ISS for $55 million (£39 million).


Closer to Earth, Virgin Galactic is also offering a pair of tickets as part of a competition, to 'open up space for everyone,' according to Branson, who said he wanted everyone from any background to have access to space.

Branson travelled 53.5 miles above the surface of the Earth, taking him and five crew mates to the edge of space where they experienced weightlessness and earning their astronaut wings, pinned on them by veteran Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Branson told the Today show on NBC this morning: 'Once you're an astronaut, you're always an astronaut.'

Speaking to a crowd of spectators after his flight, Branson said: 'Like most kids, I have dreamt of this moment since I was kid. But nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space, the whole thing was just magical.' 

This not only saw him gain his astronaut wings, but also win the 'billionaire space race' between himself, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who was at Spaceport America in New Mexico to watch the historic flight. 

'Elon's a friend and maybe I'll travel on one of his ships one day,' Branson said, after confirming that he Musk had purchased his ticket. 

Once Virgin Galactic begin commercial operations, they hope to operate more than one flight per day out of Spaceport America but will first replace the VSS Unity prototype with a pair of new craft more easily maintained and allowing for faster turnaround and up to 400 flights per year from each spaceport they operate out of.

With just 550 people going to space so far since Yuri Gagarin left the Earth in 1961, flying daily with the six-person cabin, Branson's firm could double the number of people holding astronaut wings in under 100 days.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has purchased a ticket to fly to the edge of space with Virgin Galactic, according to the space firm, fresh from the launch of Sir Richard Branson into space on Sunday

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has purchased a ticket to fly to the edge of space with Virgin Galactic, according to the space firm, fresh from the launch of Sir Richard Branson into space on Sunday

Richard Branson aiming to make 'space for all humanity' with Virgin
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Branson travelled 53.5 miles above the surface of the Earth, taking him and five crew mates to the edge of space where they experienced weightlessness, telling the Today show on NBC this morning: ‘Once you’re an astronaut, you’re always an astronaut'

Branson travelled 53.5 miles above the surface of the Earth, taking him and five crew mates to the edge of space where they experienced weightlessness, telling the Today show on NBC this morning: 'Once you're an astronaut, you're always an astronaut'

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson(L), with Sirisha Bandla on his shoulders, cheers with crew members after flying into space aboard a Virgin Galactic vessel, a voyage he described as the "experience of a lifetime"

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson(L), with Sirisha Bandla on his shoulders, cheers with crew members after flying into space aboard a Virgin Galactic vessel, a voyage he described as the 'experience of a lifetime'


Branson said the goal was to open space to as many people as possible, announcing the new ticket competition, run by for-profit fundraising firm Omaze.  

It will operate as a sweepstake, with a pair of tickets, which could be worth well over $500,000 (£360,000), up for grabs.

There is no cost to enter, but you can donate to the Space for Humanity foundation, launched to promote space travel and train future leaders, in return for more entries.

Branson says he envisions a future world in which 'people of all backgrounds, any gender, any ethnicity, have equal access to space.'

Bezos is scheduled to fly in the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket on July 20, which is also the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. 

Branson's flight, the first fully crewed trip to space for Virgin Galactic, was intended as a confidence-boosting plug for the firm, which plans to start taking paying customers on a short trip, allowing them to become astronauts, from 2022.  

The 70-year-old British entrepreneur pumped his fists in the air as he stepped onto the runway in New Mexico before skipping towards his daughter Holly's twins Etta and Artie and scooping them up in his arms.

Branson, who said he had dreamed about travelling to space since childhood, shared a group hug with the rest of his family including his wife Joan Templeman, his son Sam and granddaughter Eva-Deia.

He was one of six Virgin Galactic employees aboard VSS Unity for the voyage to 280,000ft, each there to test a different aspect of the flight ahead of commercial operations in 2022.

He was joined in space by chief pilot David Mackay, a Scottish-born test pilot for the Royal Air Force who went on to fly for Sir Richard's Virgin Atlantic, and chief flight instructor Michael Masucci in the cockpit.

Also onboard with Branson in the cabin was chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, a former NASA engineer, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett and Sirisha Bandla, a company vice president. 

Branson's flight, the first fully crewed trip to space for Virgin Galactic, was intended as a confidence-boosting plug for the firm, which plans to start taking paying customers on a short trip, allowing them to become astronauts, from 2022

Branson's flight, the first fully crewed trip to space for Virgin Galactic, was intended as a confidence-boosting plug for the firm, which plans to start taking paying customers on a short trip, allowing them to become astronauts, from 2022

Speaking to a crowd of spectators after his flight, Branson said: 'Like most kids, I have dreamt of this moment since I was kid. But nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space, the whole thing was just magical'

Speaking to a crowd of spectators after his flight, Branson said: 'Like most kids, I have dreamt of this moment since I was kid. But nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space, the whole thing was just magical' 

Branson said the goal was to open space to as many people as possible, announcing the new ticket competition, run by for-profit fundraising firm Omaze

Branson said the goal was to open space to as many people as possible, announcing the new ticket competition, run by for-profit fundraising firm Omaze

He was joined in space by chief pilot David Mackay, a Scottish-born test pilot for the Royal Air Force who went on to fly for Sir Richard's Virgin Atlantic, and chief flight instructor Michael Masucci in the cockpit

He was joined in space by chief pilot David Mackay, a Scottish-born test pilot for the Royal Air Force who went on to fly for Sir Richard's Virgin Atlantic, and chief flight instructor Michael Masucci in the cockpit

Branson's daughter Holly described watching her dad travel to space as being an 'emotional journey'. 

'I am truly lost for words and have never felt so many butterflies in my stomach,' she wrote on Instagram.

Branson arrived at Spaceport America on a bicycle, ready to climb aboard the mothership, VMS Eve, named for his late mother who was supposed to travel with him, but died before the ship was ready for passengers. 

His flight was watched by his wife, children and grandchildren as he fulfilled his life long dream to see the Earth from space. 

'Dad has dreamt about this day since he was a little kid, but said that going to space was more magical than he ever imagined,' Holly said. 'It was more magical and emotional to watch than I could have ever imagined too.'   

Virgin Galactic doesn't expect to start flying customers before next year. Blue Origin has yet to open ticket sales or even announce prices, but late last week boasted via Twitter that it would take clients higher and offer bigger windows

Virgin Galactic doesn't expect to start flying customers before next year. Blue Origin has yet to open ticket sales or even announce prices, but late last week boasted via Twitter that it would take clients higher and offer bigger windows

Branson's daughter Holly described watching her dad travel to space as being an 'emotional journey'

Branson's daughter Holly described watching her dad travel to space as being an 'emotional journey'

'I am truly lost for words and have never felt so many butterflies in my stomach,' she wrote on Instagram

'I am truly lost for words and have never felt so many butterflies in my stomach,' she wrote on Instagram

Speaking to a crowd of spectators afterwards, Branson said: 'Like most kids, I have dreamt of this moment since I was kid. But nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space, the whole thing was just magical'

Speaking to a crowd of spectators afterwards, Branson said: 'Like most kids, I have dreamt of this moment since I was kid. But nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space, the whole thing was just magical'


Branson was originally scheduled to go on the next test flight, but moved his trip forward after Jeff Bezos announced he would go to space on July 20.

This created a rivalry with Blue Origin, which also hopes to offer paying customers the chance to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and spaceflight. 

Bezos offered his congratulations to Branson on his maiden voyage into space, saying he 'can't wait to join the club!'

There are over 600 people who have been waiting as long as 15 years for a chance to travel in the spaceplane.

Tourists are expected to pay 250,000 US dollars (£180,000) for a spaceflight on Virgin Galactic, which includes four minutes of zero gravity. 

'The mission statement that I wrote inside my space suit was to turn the dream of space travel into a reality for my grandchildren, for your grandchildren and for many people alive today, for everybody,' Branson said. 

'We are here to make space more accessible to all and we want to turn the next generation f dreamers into the astronauts of today and tomorrow.'

Speaking of the competition, he said 'every donation supports a charity called space for humanity and you will be entered into a sweepstake for a chance to win not one, but two seats aboard one of the first Virgin Galactic spaceflights.' 

As well as becoming an astronaut, competition winners will also join Sir Richard Branson for a personal VIP tour of Spaceport America.

Omaze, who is running the competition, which is free to enter, wrote on a post promoting the competition: 

'You and your guest will board a Virgin Galactic spaceship where you'll take off smoothly, just like an airplane, and watch as the colours outside your window change from blue to indigo to midnight black.

'Hovering above Earth, nothing can prepare you for the breathtaking views of our bright planet and surrounding galaxy. Or hearing 'you are now free to float about the cabin.'

It isn't yet clearly exactly when the winner will fly, but Branson said it would be on one of the first trips. 

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, left, receives a Virgin Galactic made astronaut wings pin from Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield after his flight to space from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, left, receives a Virgin Galactic made astronaut wings pin from Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield after his flight to space from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences

Astronaut Chris Hadfield holds wings before presenting to crew members. Every future astronaut flying with Virgin Galactic will receive the pin, with Branson declaring 'once an astronaut, always an astronaut'

Astronaut Chris Hadfield holds wings before presenting to crew members. Every future astronaut flying with Virgin Galactic will receive the pin, with Branson declaring 'once an astronaut, always an astronaut'

Bezos posted to Instagram: ''@richardbransonand crew, congratulations on the flight. Can't wait to join the club!'

Bezos posted to Instagram: ''@richardbransonand crew, congratulations on the flight. Can't wait to join the club!'

So far just over 550 people have been to space, defined by the 50 mile limit suggested by NASA, but that number could double in a couple of years with the advent of sub-orbital space tourism

So far just over 550 people have been to space, defined by the 50 mile limit suggested by NASA, but that number could double in a couple of years with the advent of sub-orbital space tourism


'Cameras throughout the cabin will record every moment in HD. With 17 circular windows for viewing, every seat is a window seat. And there's even a mirror to watch yourself floating through space.

'Following a smooth glide descent, you'll return back to Earth safely, but forever transformed. You're an astronaut now.'

So far just over 550 people have been to space, defined by the 50 mile limit suggested by NASA, but that number could double in a couple of years with the advent of sub-orbital space tourism.


Virgin Galactic isn't the only space firm using the offer of a ticket to raise money for charity. Blue Origin ran a $28 million auction for a ticket on the first crewed test flight, alongside Bezos, his brother and female astronaut Wally Funk.

The Blue Origin passengers will spend at least 10 minutes floating in zero gravity inside the capsule during the sub-orbital sightseeing trip. 

Blue Origin named the New Shepard program after astronaut Alan Shepard, who was the first American to fly into space 60 years ago. 

But Branson has arguably 'won the space race' by pipping Bezos to the post by just nine days, as well as SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who tweeted, 'Congratulations, beautiful flight!'

Sunday's launch was hailed a 'landmark moment' for Branson, as well as the whole commercial space industry.

Take-off had been delayed by about 90 minutes on Sunday due to the weather overnight at Spaceport America in New Mexico, in the US.

Footage streamed live online showed the Virgin Galactic in the air at about 3.45pm UK time, and the aircraft had reached 40,000 feet by 4pm. 

The spacecraft was carried up into the atmosphere by its mothership, the VSS Unity, before being released so it could power up to highs of 250,000 feet. 

Sir Richard and his crew reached speeds of Mach 3 on their way to the edge of space. 

After a short spell during which they experienced weightlessness, the craft then pointed downwards and made its way back to the ground, touching down around 4.40pm.

On the return flight, Sir Richard hailed the 'experience of a lifetime' and the 'hard, hard work' that went into the flight. 

Speaking to a crowd of spectators afterwards, Branson said: 'Like most kids, I have dreamt of this moment since I was kid. But nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space, the whole thing was just magical.' 

Sir Richard later posted a video of himself while onboard Unity, saying: 'To all you kids down there, I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars. Now I'm an adult in a spaceship, with lots of other wonderful adults looking down at our beautiful, beautiful Earth. 

While in space, shortly before England lost to Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 final, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett, top, shows a message for the England team, saying 'it's coming home'

While in space, shortly before England lost to Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 final, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett, top, shows a message for the England team, saying 'it's coming home'

'I was once a child with a dream': Branson travels to space
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Sir Richard later posted a video of himself while onboard Unity, saying: 'To all you kids down there, I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars. Now I'm an adult in a spaceship, with lots of other wonderful adults looking down at our beautiful, beautiful Earth

Sir Richard later posted a video of himself while onboard Unity, saying: 'To all you kids down there, I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars. Now I'm an adult in a spaceship, with lots of other wonderful adults looking down at our beautiful, beautiful Earth

'To the next generation of dreamers, if we can do this, just imagine what you can do,' Branson said to the crowd waiting to greet him after his trip to space.

He also paid tribute to the late scientist Stephen Hawking, who he said it was an 'honour' to know.

On the ground, Michael Colglazier, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said: 'This is a landmark moment for Virgin Galactic. 

'It's a landmark moment for the new commercial space industry and it certainly is a landmark moment for our founder Richard Branson.'

The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity and mothership separate flying way above Spaceport America, near Truth and Consequences, New Mexico on July 11, 2021 on the way to the cosmos

The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity and mothership separate flying way above Spaceport America, near Truth and Consequences, New Mexico on July 11, 2021 on the way to the cosmos

Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity, carrying billionaire Richard Branson and crew, starts its engine before commencing it ascent to the edge of space above Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity, carrying billionaire Richard Branson and crew, starts its engine before commencing it ascent to the edge of space above Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

He said the company's work on Sunday was dedicated to 'opening up space to all'. 

The firm has some lofty ambitions in space, hoping to one day have up to a dozen spacecraft operating out of a number of spaceports around the world - with 400 trips from each spaceport every year.

In an earlier interview for MailOnline, Colglazier said they had to first move to a more agile fleet, with new versions of the spaceship that area easier to adapt, maintain and operate.

He said one day it could be possible to use the Mothership and Spaceship combination to operate point to point flights around the world, but wouldn't say whether that was an active goal of the firm. 

On the ground, Michael Colglazier, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said: 'This is a landmark moment for Virgin Galactic'

On the ground, Michael Colglazier, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said: 'This is a landmark moment for Virgin Galactic'

Jeff Bezos posts a message to Richard Branson (pictured) on July 10, 2021: @richardbranson wishing you and the whole team a successful and safe flight tomorrow. Best of luck!'

Jeff Bezos posts a message to Richard Branson (pictured) on July 10, 2021: @richardbranson wishing you and the whole team a successful and safe flight tomorrow. Best of luck!'


Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity and mothership separate as they fly way above Spaceport America, near Truth and Consequences, New Mexico on July 11, 2021 on the way to the cosmos

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity and mothership separate as they fly way above Spaceport America, near Truth and Consequences, New Mexico on July 11, 2021 on the way to the cosmos 

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos (pictured) has an estimated personal worth of $186.2 billion (£131.5 billion)

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos (pictured) has an estimated personal worth of $186.2 billion (£131.5 billion)


Mike Moses, a top executive at Virgin Galactic, said the flight was 'perfect' aside from some issues with the transmission of images from inside the cabin. He added the spacecraft looked pristine upon its return.  

'That was an amazing accomplishment,' former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, a one-time commander of the International Space Station, said. 'I'm just so delighted at what this open door is going to lead to now. It's a great moment.'     

In a statement posted after the flight, Sir Richard said 'how you feel when you look when you look down on Earth is impossible to put into words, it's just indescribable beauty. I can't wait for you all to get up there.' 

The businessman added: 'Imagine a world where people of all ages and backgrounds, from anywhere, of any gender, of any ethnicity have equal access to space. They will in turn, inspire us all back here on Earth.

'If you've ever had a dream, now is the time to make it come true. Welcome to the dawn of a new space age.'

Sir Richard also confirmed plans to 'turn the next generation of dreamers into the astronauts of today'.

This was said while announcing an Omaze sweepstake for the chance to win two seats aboard one of the first commercial Virgin Galactic flights. 

Other firms operating in the commercial space sector sent their congratulations. Rocket Lab wrote: 'Congratulations to @richardbranson and the @virgingalactic team. A big day for space!' 

Branson was handed his astronaut wings by veteran Hadfield, who also co-hosted the media coverage of the event. 


Branson floats in zero gravity on board Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity

Branson floats in zero gravity on board Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity

Branson delivering a message from space aboard SpaceShip Two Unity 22 during their flight after take off from Spaceport America, New Mexico, US

Branson delivering a message from space aboard SpaceShip Two Unity 22 during their flight after take off from Spaceport America, New Mexico, US

Branson (pictured in the cabin of VSS Unity), Bezos and Musk, who have a combined net worth exceeding $380 billion (£274 billion), have poured their near limitless resources into their respective space start-ups in the hopes of revolutionising aerospace journeys.

Branson (pictured in the cabin of VSS Unity), Bezos and Musk, who have a combined net worth exceeding $380 billion (£274 billion), have poured their near limitless resources into their respective space start-ups in the hopes of revolutionising aerospace journeys.

Branson was pictured ahead of his historic flight today with SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk, who will travel to space with Virgin in the near future.

Musk, 50, and Branson, 70, were snapped ahead of Sunday's journey to space alongside the message: 'Big day ahead. Great to start the morning with a friend.'  

Branson, Bezos and Musk, who have a combined net worth exceeding $380 billion (£274 billion), have poured their near limitless resources into their respective space start-ups in the hopes of revolutionising aerospace journeys. 

The group have all said that they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US beat the Soviet Union in the space race, and had previously said how much it would mean for each to win the 'new space race'.

Although SpaceX and Tesla founder Musk has said he wants to go into space, and even 'die on Mars', he has not said when he might blast into orbit.  

Branson, left, sprays champagne to crew member Beth Moses while celebrating their flight to space from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, N.M., Sunday

Branson, left, sprays champagne to crew member Beth Moses while celebrating their flight to space from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, N.M., Sunday

Branson wears his astronaut's wings at a news conference, after flying with a crew in Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity

Branson wears his astronaut's wings at a news conference, after flying with a crew in Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity


Before climbing aboard, Branson signed the astronaut log book and wisecracked: 'The name's Branson. Sir Richard Branson. Astronaut 001. License to thrill.'

The flamboyant billionaire, who was pictured cycling to the facility this morning, is the second oldest person to travel to space - after 77-year-old John Glenn in 1998. 

However, he will drop to become the third oldest once space pioneer Wally Funk, 82, travels to space with Blue Origin's New Shepard next week. 

Sir Richard told the Times the view alone will be worth the £1billion he has spent on the project, and added: 'I think it's one of the reasons that people want to become astronauts. They want to look back at this beautiful Earth. 

'Every astronaut I've known has come back determined that the rest of their lives will be spent working harder to protect the planet that we live on.'

He was joined in space by chief pilot David Mackay, a Scottish-born test pilot for the Royal Air Force who went on to fly for Sir Richard's Virgin Atlantic, and chief flight instructor Michael Masucci in the cockpit.

Also onboard with Branson in the cabin was chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, a former NASA engineer, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett and Sirisha Bandla, a company vice president. 

The six grabbed a lift from mothership pilots C.J. Sturckow, a former NASA astronaut, and Kelly Latimer, before VSS Unity was dropped from VMS Eve. 

A discount travel service it is not, with tickets priced in the hundreds of thousands. 

But demand is apparently strong, with several hundred wealthy would-be citizen astronauts already having booked reservations, priced at around £180,000 per ticket (around $250,000).

Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX are technically competing but each offering a very different service or profile

Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX are technically competing but each offering a very different service or profile 

Branson arrived at Spaceport America on a bicycle, ready to climb aboard the mothership, VMS Eve, named for his late mother who was supposed to travel with him, but died before the ship was ready for passengers.

Branson arrived at Spaceport America on a bicycle, ready to climb aboard the mothership, VMS Eve, named for his late mother who was supposed to travel with him, but died before the ship was ready for passengers.

Branson said he felt like a 'kid' in the cabin and couldn't wait to open up flights to more people in the near future

Branson said he felt like a 'kid' in the cabin and couldn't wait to open up flights to more people in the near future


The Swiss-based investment bank UBS has estimated the potential value of the space tourism market reaching $3 billion annually by 2030.

Proving rocket travel safe for the public is key, given the inherent dangers of spaceflight.

An earlier prototype of the Virgin Galactic rocket plane crashed during a test flight over California's Mojave Desert in 2014, killing one pilot and seriously injuring another.  

Virgin Galactic doesn't expect to start flying customers before next year. Blue Origin has yet to open ticket sales or even announce prices, but late last week boasted via Twitter that it would take clients higher and offer bigger windows.

Unlike Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX, which launch capsules atop reusable booster rockets, Virgin Galactic uses a twin-fuselage aircraft to get its rocket ship aloft.

The space plane is released from the mothership about 44,000 feet (13,400 meters) up, then fires its rocket motor to streak straight to space. Maximum altitude is roughly 55 miles (70 kilometers), with three to four minutes of weightlessness provided.

The rocket plane - which requires two pilots - glides to a runway landing at its Spaceport America base.

Virgin Galactic reached space for the first time in 2018, repeating the feat in 2019 and again this past May, each time with a minimal crew. It received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration last month to start launching customers.  

The 70-year-old said he was going into space to 'test the customer experience' from start to finish, to ensure that those paying to go up get the best possible experience. 

It is the fourth crewed flight of VSS Unity and only the second to include passengers in the cabin. The first saw Beth Moses go up in February 2019. 

Forget SpaceX! Elon Musk splashes out $250,000 for a seat on a Virgin Galactic flight rather than flying with his own space firm Forget SpaceX! Elon Musk splashes out $250,000 for a seat on a Virgin Galactic flight rather than flying with his own space firm Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 09:54 Rating: 5

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