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“I was once a kid with a dream”: Richard Branson blasts into space

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Well he finally did it. 17 years after Richard Branson first launched Virgin Galactic, the thrill-seeking billionaire has taken to the skies and reached space

In his boldest adventure yet, the 70 year old Richard Branson took off for the first stage of the flight.

On the ground, about 500 people watched on, including Richard Branson’s wife, children and grandchildren.

On board were his five crewmates from his Virgin Galactic space tourism company.

Richard Branson and his five crew mates.
Richard Branson and his five crew mates.

The space plane detached from the mother ship at an altitude of about 13km and fired its engine, reaching the edge of space about 88km up.

After a few minutes of weightlessness for the crew, the space plane is began its decent, set to end with a glide to a runway landing.

Richard Branson couldn’t contain his excitement, as he spoke on the journey back to earth.

Richard Branson’s message to children from space

He thanked his crew and remembered all those who had worked on the mammoth project.

After a decade of promises, the moment finally came for Richard Branson to unveil his spaceship for the people.

He said on board:: “To all you kids down there, I was once a kid with a dream. Now I’m up here, in a space ship!”

Customer spaceflight experience

As Branson took to space onboard Virgin Galactic, his official role for the journey will be “evaluating customer spaceflight experience”.

And that’s an important role – after all anyone who wants to rise Virgin Galactic will need to part with a quarter of a million dollars first, and that price is expected to rise.

Along with the two pilots, there is room for six passengers with a flight time of about an hour and a half.

The Virgin Galactic rocket ship detached from the mothership.
The Virgin Galactic rocket ship detached from the mothership.

The spaceship will just go over the 82 kilometres, which is where the US recognises someone as having been into space.

Then, passengers will get to experience about six minutes of weightlessness and seeing the curvature of the Earth and the darkness of space.

They will then descend, landing on a runway much like the old space shuttle or a normal passenger plane.

The new space race

Richard Branson’s adventure will pre-empt next week’s first flight for Blue Origin, as Jeff Bezos launches his space dreams.

Jeff and Blue Origin are promising a completely different experience for their customers.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard, which has no pilots and room for six passengers, reaches more than 100 kilometres high, which is the internationally recognised boundary of space.

Passengers on Blue Origin will get about three minutes to float around and feel like they are in space.

Might be half the time, but the price is 50,000 dollars cheaper than flying on Virgin Galactic.

But either way, the expensive thrill ride marks the beginning of earth’s commercial passenger trips into space.

Virgin Galactic doesn’t expect to start flying customers before next year.

Business

Sleepover at IKEA: dozens stranded amid snowstorm in Denmark

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Two dozen staff and six customers were forced to stay the night at IKEA as up to 30 centimetres of snow trapped them inside

A furniture showroom in the department store in Aalborg, Denmark, became the bedroom of several people who were unable to safely make it home in time amidst a strong snowstorm.

Store Manager Peter Elmose told the Ekstra Bladet tabloid that people could “pick the exact bed they always have wanted to try.”

People working in a toy shop next door also took to the department store to join in on the fun.

Michelle Barrett, one of the toy shop staff, told Denmark’s public broadcaster, DR, “it’s much better than sleeping in one’s car. It has been nice and warm and we are just happy that they would let us in.” 

“We just laughed at the situation, because we will probably not experience it again,” she added.

Another approximate 300 people had to stay the night at the Aalborg airport to keep out of the storm. 

According to Euronews, the IKEA sleepover consisted of feasting on chips and Swedish cinnamon rolls in the staff canteen before watching television.

“It was a really nice evening, enjoying each other’s company,” Elmose told AFP. 

“Everyone had a full night’s sleep, our mattresses are good.”

And when the shop reopened for business the next morning, all the bedding and sheets had of course been changed.

Unmade beds following the overnight stay at IKEA amid snowstorm. Source: IKEA Aalborg’s Instagram

This comes after 61 people were trapped in a Yorkshire pub for three nights last week.

The several people trapped in the Tan Hill Inn during the storm slept on makeshift beds on the floor, watched movies, had a quiz night and enjoyed a buffet meal.

Some guests even claimed they didn’t want to leave the the pub after enjoying the 17th century hotel’s hospitality.

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United Airlines makes history, operating flight with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel

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The aviation sector is widely known to be a high-emissions industry, with aircraft contributing to a growing pollution problem – but United Airlines just made history, in a brilliant way

United Airlines on Wednesday operated the world’s very first flight that used 100% sustainable aviation fuel, known as SAF.

Flying a jet with more than 100 passengers from Chicago to Washington, DC, the flight was the first commercial flight ever using only renewable fuel.

In a statement United Airlines said: United is the world leader in the usage and support for the development of SAF, an alternative fuel made with non-petroleum feedstocks, already having agreements to purchase nearly twice as much SAF as the known agreements of all other global airlines combined.

SAF has the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel but with a fraction of its carbon footprint, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the country’s vast feedstock resources are enough to meet the projected fuel demand of the entire U.S. aviation industry.

“United continues to lead from the front when it comes to climate change action,”

United CEO Scott Kirby, who will fly onboard today’s historic SAF flight.

“Today’s SAF flight is not only a significant milestone for efforts to decarbonize our industry, but when combined with the surge in commitments to produce and purchase alternative fuels, we’re demonstrating the scalable and impactful way companies can join together and play a role in addressing the biggest challenge of our lifetimes.”

The airline boss noted.
United makes history using 100% SAF fuel on domestic flight / Image: Supplied

Currently, airlines are only permitted to use a maximum of 50% SAF

The SAF used on the Dec. 1 flight is drop-in ready and compatible with existing aircraft fleets, United said.

The flight operated as a demonstration – to see how the jet would perform using only SAF fuel

The 737 MAX 8 used 500 gallons of SAF in one engine and the same amount of conventional jet fuel in the other engine “to further prove there are no operational differences between the two and to set the stage for more scalable uses of SAF by all airlines in the future,” United said.

United partnered with other companies including Virent, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum whose technology enables 100% drop-in SAF, and World Energy, the world’s first and North America’s only commercial SAF producer to make the flight possible.

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World airlines warn Omicron will hit travel again

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The aviation industry has warned the Omicron variant of COVID is set to impact the aviation industry once again

Airlines are starting to feel the effects of the new Omicron variant of COVID, with Emirates and easyJet both warning Tuesday of the risks to travel demand. Julian Satterthwaite reports.

The world’s airlines are bracing for a fresh impact from the Omicron variant.

On Tuesday (November 30) the strongest warning came from mideast carrier Emirates.

Company President Tim Clark warned that any hit to seasonal travel will be devastating for an industry already hit by two years of heavy losses:

“So, I would say probably by the end of December, we’ll have a much clearer position. But in that time, December is a very important month for the air travel business and if that is lost, or the winter is lost to a lot of carriers, there will be significant traumas in the business, certainly the aviation business and the periphery of that.”

UK budget airline easyJet says it’s already seeing a drop-off in demand.

It says resurgent health worries, including Omicron, have prompted people to rethink plans for city breaks.

Though it says the impact isn’t yet as bad as during earlier lockdowns.

On Tuesday the airline reported a loss of $1.5 billion for the year to the end of September.

Scandinavia’s SAS also said it remained in the red for the August to October quarter.

The latest warnings come after multiple countries including the U.S., UK, Japan and Israel imposed travel curbs in response to the new virus variant.

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