Billionaire Richard Branson reaches space in his own ship

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson carries crew member Sirisha Bandla on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space at Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, Sunday, July 11. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
Susan Montoya Bryan and Marcia Dunn Swashbuckling billionaire Richard Branson hurtled into space aboard his own winged rocket ship July 11, bringing astro-tourism a step closer to reality and beating out his exceedingly richer rival Jeff Bezos. The nearly 71-year-old Branson and five crewmates from his Virgin Galactic space-tourism company reached an altitude of 53.5 miles (86 kilometers) over the New Mexico desert – enough to experience three to four minutes of weightlessness and witness the curvature of the Earth – and then glided back home to a runway landing. “The whole thing, it was just magical,” a jubilant Branson said on his return aboard the gleaming white space plane, named Unity. The brief, up-and-down flight – the space plane’s portion took only about 15 minut
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