'Experience of a lifetime': Billionaire Branson achieves space dream

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Virgin laminitis Sir Richard Branson speaks astatine a property league astatine the Mojave Air and Space Port successful California connected November 1, 2014 (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

As celebrated for his thrill-seeking manner and publicity stunts arsenic for his immense concern empire, Richard Branson tin present cheque "astronaut" disconnected his to-do database aft successfully completing his archetypal spaceflight.

The avowed "Star Trek" instrumentality attributed his thrust and sensation for escapade to his parent Eve, who died from Covid-19 successful January.

"Dear Mum, you ever told maine to scope for the stars. Well, I took my ain winding road, but I ever knew to travel your lead," helium said successful a video tribute that aired earlier the VSS Unity spaceplane took disconnected connected Sunday.

The Virgin radical boss, whose nett worthy amounts to $5.7 cardinal (£4.1 billion, 4.8 cardinal euros) according to Forbes magazine, made his archetypal luck successful the grounds manufacture successful the 1970s.

The London-born entrepreneur, present 70, has since launched a drawstring of palmy companies successful sectors arsenic divers arsenic railways and mobile phones, arsenic good arsenic Virgin Atlantic airlines.

But determination person been plentifulness of missteps.

His failures see a short-lived effort astatine Formula One racing, a stab astatine the brushed drinks marketplace with Virgin Cola, and a wedding institution called Virgin Bride, which immoderate said existed lone due to the fact that of the name.

Branson was said to person been a below-average pupil who suffered from dyslexia, with his headmaster astatine a backstage schoolhouse successful confederate England seemingly telling him helium would either spell to situation oregon go a millionaire.

He acceptable up Virgin Records erstwhile helium was conscionable 20 and earned his archetypal cardinal pounds 3 years later, buying his ain Caribbean land a fewer years afterwards.

The grounds label's breakthrough came with "Tubular Bells", a 1973 instrumental medium by the British instrumentalist Mike Oldfield, which sold millions of copies.

His parent was a formation attendant, truthful possibly helium was pursuing successful the household footsteps erstwhile helium acceptable up his hose successful 1984.

But his concern practices and publicity stunts since past person irked many.

In 2006, it emerged that Virgin Atlantic and British Airways had engaged successful terms fixing, though his steadfast avoided immoderate punishment due to the fact that they tipped disconnected the authorities.

And past year, Branson asked the British authorities for £500 cardinal to assistance Virgin Atlantic upwind the economical fallout of the Covid lockdown, contempt having paid nary income taxation successful Britain for much than a decade.

Politicians accused him of "milking the system".

In 2012, a columnist for The Guardian paper compared Branson to the WikiLeaks laminitis Julian Assange "in that some judge the satellite revolves astir them".

That was a spot ironic, arsenic Branson has tried and failed respective times to go the archetypal idiosyncratic to spell astir the satellite nonstop successful a balloon.

At the property of 28, Branson bought Necker Island, wherever helium has hosted lavish parties and getaways for celebrities and governmental leaders including erstwhile US president Barack Obama and his woman Michelle.

Much of the publicity surrounding Branson implicit the years has been based astir his adventuring; helium has tackled a fig of records successful speedboats, balloons and adjacent an amphibious car.

These exploits brought him adjacent to calamity successful 1998, erstwhile helium and his co-pilot were forced to ditch their balloon successful the Pacific Ocean aft debased unit forced the trade down.

His efforts successful caller years person focused connected his abstraction tourism company, founded successful 2004 and based successful the Mojave godforsaken successful California.

Branson, who was knighted successful 2000 for his services to entrepreneurship, had hoped to articulation a commercialized formation with Virgin Galactic arsenic aboriginal arsenic 2009.

But its timeline was deed by a bid of delays, including a tragic clang successful 2014 that claimed the beingness of a trial pilot.

Ever the showman, Branson unveiled a Willy Wonka-esque contention for abstraction enthusiasts to triumph 2 escaped tickets connected Virgin Galactic flights, pursuing Sunday's palmy flight.

"I committedness tons of chocolate," helium joked, comparing himself to the beloved Roald Dahl character.

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