Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson flies to space: How Twitter reacted to Unity 22 launch

Yesterday, Richard Branson crossed the imaginary boundary of space and spent 11 minutes experiencing life as an astronaut. He also earned his astronaut wings, pinned to his outfit by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. The six-member crew was launched from the Spaceport America base in New Mexico at 8:00 pm IST.

Branson was joined by three fellow passengers and two pilots (all Virgin employees) on the spacecraft and breached the US-recognised boundary of space. They reached an altitude of 86 kilometres and experienced weightlessness for a few minutes aboard the VSS Unity.

The spaceplane then lowered its wings and glided to the ground at around 9:10 pm IST, about an hour after it had taken off attached to the belly of a massive carrier plane, which ascended 15 kilometres before dropping its payload.

At an altitude of about 13 kilometres, Unity detached from the mothership and fired its engine, breaching Mach 3 (or three times the speed of sound) as it shot into space.

Also read: Dream of a lifetime: 70-yr-old virgin galactic owner Richard Branson set to fly into space

A Star Trek fan, the 70-year-old founder of the Virgin Group attributed his drive and taste for adventure to his mother Eve, who recently passed away due to COVID-19 in January.

"Dear Mum, you always told me to reach for the stars. Well, I took my own winding road, but I always knew to follow your lead," he said in a video tribute that aired before the VSS Unity spaceplane took off.

During the post-flight ceremony, he said, "I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, but honestly nothing could prepare you for the view of Earth from space."

Also read: An aerospace engineer explains what is a suborbital flight and why they matter

The launch sent Twitterati into a tizzy. While some people were all about celebrating this new frontier, others weren't really on board (pun intended).

With inputs from Agencies

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