A misleading bike ride video, space vs edge of space questions: Did Branson lie about some aspects of his trip?

Edited By: Nikhil Pandey WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Jul 14, 2021, 03:09 PM(IST)

Richard Branson Photograph:( Reuters )

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Several experts, including scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, a student of Carl Sagan, dispute that Richard Branson has indeed flown into space. 

The 70-year-old billionaire Richard Branson is now an astronaut, but did he travel into space?

Experts have doubts. 

On Sunday morning, he launched into space in a fully crewed Virgin Galactic aircraft, at least nine days before rival space mogul Jeff Bezos aims to reach the edge of space with a Blue Origin spacecraft. 

However, several experts, including scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, a student of Carl Sagan, dispute that he has flown to space. 

Richard Branson did not go on space flight, said astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium deGrasse in an interview with CNN. 

“First of all, it was suborbital. NASA did it 60 years ago with Alan Shepard, took off from Cape Canaveral and landed in the ocean. If you don't go fast enough to reach orbit you will fall and return to Earth, ” explained deGrasse.

“It's okay if you want to call it 'space' because average humans haven't gotten there before and it's a first for you. That's why it takes eight minutes to get into orbit and three days to reach the moon. That is space travel. So I don't see it as 'oh, let's go into space. No. What you are going to have is a nice view of the Earth ”, he explained.

The Kármán line: Space border

The Kármán line, which is 100 kilometres above mean sea level, is the most frequently accepted space border.

However, in the United States, the cutoff point is set at 80 kilometres.

Branson's Virgin Galactic mission achieved an altitude of 86 kilometres, while Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin flight is projected to reach a height of approximately 106 kilometres. 

Whether or not Branson has technically been to space, his achievement ushering in a new age in space tourism.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon is set to accomplish the same with a ship from his business Blue Origin in less than a week. 


Virgin Galactic admits it ‘faked’ video of Branson’s pre-launch bike ride

Meanwhile, Branson's company Virgin Galactic has admitted that its billionaire founder did not ride his bicycle to the launch site of his space journey on the day of the trip last Sunday, as was represented in a widely circulated video included in the company's webcast of the event. 


Branson was seen riding his bike, flanked by two SUVs, toward New Mexico's state-owned Spaceport America near the town of Truth or Consequences, and handing his bike helmet to an employee upon arrival. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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