After more than 16 years of research, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands at the vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to open space to humankind and change the world for good. - Richard Branson

In a shocking update yesterday, Virgin Galactic announced its plans to launch its billionaire founder Richard Branson into space on July 11. The date falls nine days before Jeff Bezos, founder of Virgin Galactic rival Blue Origin, is scheduled to take off for space. The news comes just a week after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Virgin Galactic the license to fly commercial passengers. Branson will make a suborbital flight, traveling aboard the VSS Unity spacecraft with two pilots and three other mission specialists, marking it the company’s fourth crewed mission.

Zoom Out: Space is having its moment right now. Two billionaires are flying to space this month (that we know of so far). Will Elon Musk throw his hat in the ring as well? We’ll find out soon enough, but more importantly, these announcements showcase the founders’ confidence in their progress and mission. We are witnessing the birth of a new space age, one in which the final frontier can become accessible to all of humankind, and every day we take a small step closer to becoming a multi-planetary species.

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