Richard Branson Plans Virgin Galactic Space Trip Before Jeff Bezos

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Richard Branson plans to beat Jeff Bezos to space.

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. said Thursday that Mr. Branson plans to board a flight that will launch for space on July 11, assuming the weather permits and there are no technical problems. That is nine days before Mr. Bezos, the outgoing chief executive at Amazon.com Inc., is expected to do so on a craft operated by his space company, Blue Origin.

The planned launches ferrying both men highlight the competition between Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin for suborbital travel. Companies involved in the emerging industry hope to send hundreds of people on such flights. For now, those trips could cost less than $500,000, based on earlier comments from Virgin executives.

Virgin Galactic said Mr. Branson will use the proposed trip to evaluate the experience for private astronauts and use his observations about preparing for the trip and the flight itself to improve future trips for customers.

“I’m honored to help validate the journey our future astronauts will undertake and ensure we deliver the unique customer experience people expect from Virgin,” Mr. Branson said in a statement.

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