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Richard Branson Didn't Go To Space

He did, however, go very high in the sky in a rocket plane. The billionaire Richard Branson went 53.5 miles into the sky on Sunday, short of the Kármán line, which is 62 miles above sea level and where it is generally agreed that space begins. Branson did surpass 50 miles above sea level, above which NASA gives out astronaut wings. But come on, man, Branson’s stunt only barely cleared that. ( More...

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Tom Bruce 22
awwww who cares... great achievement ... give him his due
Dave Mathes 5
...yea, I don't have that on my resume....well done!...
Rico van Dijk 15
This guy is just jealous that he wasn’t on the flight. Calling ‘amusement’ rides pointless, whilst their point is even in the name… The only thing that lacks any form of amusement is his article.
Colin Seftel 22
Where does outer space begin? The Kármán line (100km) is rather arbitrary. I prefer this definition - that space starts at the point where orbital dynamic forces become more important than aerodynamic forces, or where the atmosphere alone is not enough to support a flying vehicle at suborbital speeds. According to Physics Today, this boundary would be between 70km and 90km, with 80km (50 miles) being a reasonable representative value. So in my opinion, Branson DID go into outer space!
Mark Harris 4
Into space maybe - outer space definitely not!
sparkie624 -6
Noted in the Article: "62 miles above sea level" He missed it by 7.5 Miles!
lynx318 0
Yep, to settle the disputes, how much more would it cost to go that little bit further.
mr branson is a billionaire,yes..he is also charismatic,a giving person who actually does contribute his time,money and resources to causes other than himself,and were i to have a "favorite" billionaire,(i personally dont know any)he would be the one..give the man his due..of course he had a great time and of course he deserved the first ride..the company he founded,virgin,has worked on this project for did not go "into space" as have the nasa astronauts,but he came very close!!
Don Ridgeway 3
Well said Mary
hwh888 4
I’m not even sure I’d want to risk my life for one quarter million. Even NASA with their billion dollar budgets had accidents. Kinda on the same plane as Musk wanting to get to Mars. Heck we can’t even keep out planet clean, Mars would be the same given enough time.
dnorthern 14
The writers article barely gets off the ground and reeks of petty jealousy.
Chris Croft 17
Let's not even begin to compare the achievements of Bezo, Branson and Musk to those of Glenn, Grissom and Shepherd. #1 They have never been in the uniform of their country, #2 They never went through the rigors of military flight training. #3 None of them flew in combat in 2 wars.#4 None were test pilots(back when flying experimental aircraft was pretty dicey). #5 None of them went through the elite, very difficult astronaut training of the 1960's. Glenn , Grissom and Shepherd all genuinely had what Tom Wolfe referred to as "The Right Stuff". All Bezos, Branson and Musk have is "The Green $tuff"
Dubslow 12
Musk is one of the greatest engineers of all time, even if he hasn't yet deigned to fly his own spaceships.

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley certainly found the SpaceX orbital vehicle (Dragon) to be a lot more friendly to fly than any of the old school stuff (thanks to computers and modern use of said computers).

Folks like Goddard, von Braun and Korolyov would be astonished, thoroughly impressed and extraordinarily excited to see what Musk has accomplished with rockets
EMK69 6
And we should never forget the rigors of what NASA demanded of those original 7 followed by those who were on the Apollo missions. Demands' placed upon these individuals and by what little we knew when they achieved their mission.

Funny how society fails to take into account what mankind knew back then compared to modern technology.
sparkie624 1
Compare the computers to back in the Apollo Days... The first landing on the moon that was successful, the computer that helped them was having problems due to being over tasked.
skinutca -1
Yeah, these guys are doing it with their own money and building businesses out of it. The former folks were socialist living off the government in government jobs.
Dave Mathes 0 never considered myself a socialist....
skinutca 1
I know, but when you think about it that is what an oversized military and police force is. That are just big government jobs with great be if it’s, often for the uneducated. They are socialist, it is just what people don’t like to say that or fail to understand it.
Dave Mathes 1
...I don't know which irks me more, your ignorant/arrogant assumption that we just worked for the big bucks or being uneducated, which leads me to this you really even know the definition of 'socialism'?
Mark Henley 0
Do I detect a bit of astronaut worship here? ...
In my opinion, very little of what you cite has any weight on the comparison scales you are implicitly using. Looking at the numbers:
1. I wore the uniform of my country too, but other than providing a visual context of where, was basically irrelevant to butt in the seats in the air.
2. Seems self-contradictory to your #5 -- is "rigors" more applicable than "elite, very difficult?
3-4. Nothing in those items looks directly applicable for doing their NASA job other than getting experience in multi-tasking, reacting well to stress and surprises, and knowing how to quickly solve them, which the 'elite, very difficult' training provided BUT in the applicable job context.
5. I grant you that the job they were training for had, and has, risks, and different risks than aircraft, and Glenn, Grissom, and Shepard were apprised of and accepted those risks. Don't you think these commercial guys know the risks of what they choose to do if they fly in their products? The environments of the two groups are different, but the risk acceptance is the same. For example: The old Atlas boosters that Glenn and his colleagues rode on (not flew...) were notorious for leaking RP- at the bottom, and NASA had a safety limit on the number "baggies" attached to the bottom skirt of the booster to catch the fuel so it wouldn't get down into the engine plumes; Glenn not only knew that, he also knew that "his" booster exceeded the limit, but if he declined that one, he wouldn't be the first guy to do orbits, so he waived the limit to be able to fly. These new systems are the direct opposite of those old boosters -- they're so new there's little or no data gathered from the normal flight test program "surprises" to better define the true risk level(s). But these new guys agree to fly based on only what is known at the time.

Don't get me wrong -- I admire those guys for what they chose to do at the time. But if having "The Right Stuff" that Tom Wolfe implies is due to their flight history, then as Chuck Yeager pointed out, why didn't NASA agree to let them fly in the first "flight test" vehicle instead of sending a monkey?
leodbailey -1
Amen on that!!
ADXbear 3
Ha! Having worked on the space shuttlefleet for 30 years, we all know he did not go to space but was really high! The shuttles entered the Earth's atmosphere at around 380,000 feet which 71 miles high.. so he was clearly still in the Earth's atmosphere..

Buy hey, it's his party, why pee on it, we all know it was a baby step.. buy for 250k, I better get a once around the earth, which could never happen in this vehicle due to reentry heating..
jmilleratp 3
Space-ish? :-)
Steve Cutchen 4
The idea that a Branson passenger is an astronaut is insulting. Astronaut Reisman says; If I take a Carnival Cruise, I don't get epaulets and get called a sailer. The key is what is your role? Are you trained to do a job in space?

It's a ride. Branson might as well hire a mouse. Poke your head above 50 miles and la dee da, you're an astronaut? It's like driving up Pike's Peak and getting a medal that says you've climbed one of Colorado's fourteeners...

As someone whose Dad was one of the first 13 engineers to move to Houston to build the Mission Control Center, and growing up down the street from Neil Armstrong, Ed White, and Fred Haise, and down the block from Donn Eislie, Tom Stafford, Elliot See, and Bill Anders, I am highly offended by this.

Astronauts are about discovery, not joy rides. Even Christa McAuliffe, Teacher In Space, had serious assignments had that crew lived to fly their mission.

Rides are a legitimate thing to do. It will become more and more common and cheaper. But it is a joy ride. Or maybe eventually really fast trans-continental flying. That's fine. But you're not an astronaut. You're a Disney, er, uh, Virgin park guest. Maybe the title should be something like astropassenger.
Chris Croft 2
Mr. Henley, as a matter of fact I will plead guilty to "astronaut worship". Growing up in the 50's and 60's men like these were heroes to many of my generation. The space program of the 1960's was a very exciting era. These men inspired a lot of national pride and showed the world that America was leading the way in space exploration. Young men and women need heroes, not to worship, but to inspire them to achieve great things. If Bezos, Branson and Musk inspire some youngster to achieve their dreams, my hat is off to them.
Don Ridgeway 2
Wow, this REALLY opened a tin of worms
dnorthern 4
Those who built flying machines (pre Wright brothers, et al) were roundly criticized by the arrogant blustering media of the day.

Their successes and failures were the foundational basis for all that we see today in terms of flight - capability, successes, safety and on. Each made some contribution to the technology we see to day.

On the other hand, you see journalistic wannabes who Scribble drivel wrought from jealous emotion. Journalists of today have advanced so little from their muck racking counterparts of 100 years ago. Their only advances are derived from deployed technology (much of which was developed and imagined by those who took historical leaps in aviation).
Larry Lutton 1
Branson produced 60 tons of CO2 just in the fuel needed to get this thing 60 miles. That does not include the CO2 produced to make the thing. The average US, suv driving, home owning citizen only burns about 8.5 tons. Yet Branson is concidered an enviromentlist, even though he has a fleet of private jets and luxery homes.
In addition Branson wrote off the whole cost of this 'project' as advertisment for his many business ventures, Which means WE paid for his little joy ride.
And don't get me started on Bezos 90 tons of CO2 he will burn haul his little a$$ to 'space'
M Farrell 1
PLS. don't notify me of squawks re "didn't go to space." That wasn't my comment!
cnesa 1
He did go to space, if your floating in near zero gravity, then your in space and don’t need a made up line that people agree with prove it.
Doug Parker 4
Respectfully, *you're,* not *your.*
Jim Allen 1
You can get 0g in a “vomit comet” for much cheaper. Besides, isn’t it 100 mi, not km, that is considered “space”?
lynx318 0
Kármán line is 62 mile, about 100 km.
lynx318 0
Moon still under gravities effect at near 400,000kms, even at the Kármán line there is still a tiny amount, just barely noticeable.
Chris Habig 7
It's more than barely noticeable. At the Kármán line (100 km) the force of gravity is 97% of what it is on Earth's surface. Zero G experienced by astronauts has nothing to do with distance from Earth and everything to do with the trajectory of their motion.
Mark Henley 3
Bravo! That's exactly right. You can get the same experience for a short time in an amusement park ride that takes you to the top of a tall tower and then drops you at a rate that matches or exceeds the acceleration of Earth's gravity. (well, to get it perfectly matched, you'd have to be unstrapped, but that's a bit more risky since you wouldn't have anything like the inside of a fuselage to touch now and then to keep you centered inside the space you're in as you and all the stuff around you are moving along the same trajectory...)
Jim Allen 0
Sorry, three rich guys in a technical version of a penis measuring contest does not interest me… we’ve got a worldwide pandemic to deal with. Don’t get me wrong - it’s their money - they can spend it any way they like. Sir Richard Branson has a long history of charitable activity and it’s kind of his persona to do this plus he’s opining up a path for Virgin Galactic. Bezos? What’s his goal? Amazon 15 minute delivery that costs $50,000 for a $25 part? Elon Musk’s time would be much better spent getting the quality problems out of his cars.
Leo Cotnoir 0
Well said. Branson's stunt accomplished nothing except to spew a great deal pollution into the air to satisfy the ego of a billionaire. This is the exact opposite of how the aerospace business got started. And the enthusiasm of the public for this sort of nonsense only undermines support for legitimate space endeavors.
TERRY Smith 0
So...he didn't go all the way?
klimchuk 0
Just watch random people shooting to the space for no reason
Bill Olsen 0
Space is simply where you can see the stars in the light of day, where there is no air on which to float, and natural life cannot be found. Sir Richard was there in his opinion, which is the only opinion that matters - unless you have been there as well.
Kevin Keswick -2
I never followed Branson's program closely but I had always assumed that his rocket ship was designed to put tourists into orbit around earth. It's clear from the demonstration flight that this plane is not capable of doing that. From a technical standpoint it no more impressive than an X15 flight in 1959.

Looking closely at Bezos' program it seems to be much the same thing accept that it will land back on earth vertically. Not sure why anyone would want to spend $250K to experience a few minutes of weightlessness before falling back to earth in a vehicles whose safety is largely unproven.

By comparison Musk's achievements are far more impressive. SpaceX is the first private company to develop a reliable rocket that has sent men to the space station. The reusable boosters on SpaceX look like something out of science fiction when they vertically land on return to earth. Musk has even blasted his own Tesla Roadster into outer space. In the Billionaire space-race Musk is way out ahead of Bezos and Branson.

Branson has nothing to prove to Branson and Bezos and I hope he will hold off for a long time taking a flight on his own SpaceX rocket. Space flight is still a risky business and the world can't afford to lose a great genius like Musk.
dnorthern 1
Yeah. And your ancestors looked at the Wifht Brothers plane and expressed doubts about their plane’s capability.

Yet, here we are today. Planes capable of carrying 100s of people across the globe. All made possible because some folks had a wild azz dream, didn’t care what others thought, and took the first steps.
Chris Croft 1
Well at least my ancestors could spell the name "Wright" Brothers.
dnorthern 1
Thanks. Probably a combo of fat fingering and auto correct.

I do congratulate you discovering my error in slightly less than 25 days. Had this been an Olympic event, the podium would have eluded you.

Chris Croft 2
dnorthern, I just happened to be looking at some old comments and noticed your misspelling of the name "Wright". No offense intended. My comments were in jest. Cheers!
patrick baker -1
alan shepherd went on a sub-orbital 15 minute ride that Sir RIchard might be able to identiy with as to quality and duration. Jeff BEzos has the chance to duplicate John Glenn, who performed three full earth orbits, as to height above the earth. Richard got there, sort of, first, but Bezos will wave as he surpasses altitude and duration marks that Richard made. Don't know what sort of orbital ambitions Bezos has on his flight. Richard got there first, sort of, and Bezos will get there better for sure. Multi-billionaires and their egos on display.
Torsten Hoff 21
And Musk is watching the pissing contest between Branson and Bezos with amusement as his rockets launch satellites and service the ISS...
Michael Hawke 12
The rocket from Blue Origin is not capable of orbit. It goes straight u and comes straight back down with little to no horizontal velocity
Colin Seftel 8
Bezos' New Shepard spacecraft is only capable of sub-orbital flight and will not be duplicating John Glenn's orbital flight.
btweston 2
Shepard went about twice as high. In 1961.
jmilleratp 1
Pretty "cool" that we're still working to just get back to that point. For billionaires Branson and Bezos, any way.
JW Wilson 3
"We" aren't doing anything. Private individuals are doing something. Well, at least it was cool to watch. The rest of fluff. Congrats to Branson.
Ed Allen 0
Funny But true!
A totally use- und senseless "achievement". Riding on a rocket and that's it. Any chimpanse can do (and has). Making a business out of the "ride to almost-space" is a sin considering the enormous impact to the environment. Brainless billionaires sand box has gotten a new dimension. How sad...
dnorthern 1
Good grief.

I’m not sure which is worse, your arrogant ignorance or your utter stupidity.
yep, I am aware people in your hemisphere don't give a damn about the environment. Time will come when you'll learn that AC's can't be cooked for dinner. "Utter stupidity" = Likewise :-).
dnorthern 1
You need help.
M Farrell -3
Gentlemen, I don't understand why so many are giving him "props." He's nothing other than a uber rich, privileged ,megalomaniac devising toys for his "play time" and publicity!
tnx, that's my point. Glad there's someone with common sense here....
dnorthern 2
You and your buddy have anger issues. And no common sense. Therapy is in order


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