Richard Branson has won the race to be the first billionaire astronaut. The British Virgin founder beat other space-obsessed oligarchs Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk after reaching the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere in his Virgin Galactic Unity 22 craft on Sunday.
It comes nine days before Amazon boss Bezos attempts the same feat on July 20 in Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. Tesla chief Elon Musk’s SpaceX company is far ahead in terms of technical achievement and corporate success, having secured NASA contracts and delivered astronauts to the International Space Station, but Musk is yet to make the journey himself.
Branson is famously adventurous, having attempted several dangerous world records and firsts, and cheating death more than once.
In 1986, he broke the record for the fastest Atlantic crossing by boat and, in 1987, completed the first crossing of the same ocean in a hot-air balloon (despite crash-landing).