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Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic takes first tourists to space

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Richard Branson’s long-anticipated venture, Virgin Galactic, achieved a significant milestone as it carried its first group of tourists to the edge of space.

The event marked Branson’s inaugural customer flight after facing years of delays, heralding the beginning of Virgin Galactic’s offering of monthly space rides. This achievement places Virgin Galactic alongside Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX in the competitive space tourism industry.

The successful flight saw the rocket soaring into space with a select group of passengers, including a former British Olympian and a mother-daughter duo from the Caribbean. This monumental step forward signifies the company’s readiness to offer its commercial space travel services to the public.

Jon Goodwin, a remarkable 89-year-old athlete who competed in canoeing during the 1972 Olympics, was among the first ticket buyers back in 2005 when the ticket prices were a modest $200,000. The cost of a ticket has since surged to a staggering $450,000. Accompanying Goodwin on this historic journey were Keisha Schahaff, a 46-year-old health coach from Antigua, and her 18-year-old daughter, Anastatia Mayers, a student at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Amid the cheers of onlookers at Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert, Goodwin shared his excitement, proclaiming, “That was by far the most awesome thing I’ve ever done in my life.” The mother-daughter duo made a triumphant return, exchanging high-fives and fist pumps with the elated crowd.

Gender balance

Remarkably, the flight marked a significant achievement in gender balance, with women outnumbering men onboard, a rare occurrence in spaceflight history.

The spaceplane’s journey extended approximately 15 minutes, reaching a height of 55 miles. Although this marked Virgin Galactic’s seventh space journey since 2018, it was the company’s first voyage with a paying customer. Notably, Richard Branson himself joined the first full-size crew ride in 2021, demonstrating his commitment to the venture.

Branson’s innovative company had previously held a virtual lottery to select its first 50 customers, known as the Founding Astronauts. Given his age and Parkinson’s disease, Jon Goodwin was designated as the first passenger.

Following the successful flight, Richard Branson expressed his elation on Twitter, congratulating the commercial astronauts and warmly welcoming them to the exclusive space-travel “club.”

With about 800 individuals currently on Virgin Galactic’s waiting list, the demand for such experiences remains strong. The company’s achievement is a testament to the growing allure of space tourism and the technological advancements driving it.

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BREAKING: Shots ring out at Trump rally

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Donald Trump was whisked off the stage at a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania after loud noises rang through the crowd.

Trump was showing off a chart of border crossing numbers when bangs started ringing through the crowd. Trump could be seen reaching with his right hand toward his neck. There appeared to be blood on his face.

He quickly ducked behind the riser as agents from his protective detail rushed the stage and screams rang out from the crowd. The bangs continued as agents tended to him on stage.

His motorcade has left the venue.

In a statement, Trump says he is “fine” and says he is being checked at a medical facility.

Donald Trump was safe, the U.S. Secret Service and his campaign said on Saturday after multiple shots rang out at a rally by the Republican presidential candidate in Pennsylvania as video showed Trump grimacing and raising a hand to his right ear.
The former president had just started his speech when gunshots erupted and Trump and other rally attendees hit the deck. Secret Service agents swarmed around him and live video showed blood on the right side of Trump’s face and ear.
 
Trump repeatedly raised his fist in the air, with an American flag visible behind him, as security ushered him away.
“The Secret Service has implemented protective measures and the former president is safe,” a spokesperson for the agency said on X after what it called an incident.
“This is now an active Secret Service investigation and further information will be released when available.”

A map of the site, showing where the alleged gunman was situated compared to Donald Trump.

CNN reported that Trump was injured, but gave no other details. It was not clear how or what injuries he may have sustained.

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NASA astronauts phone home, confident Boeing’s Starliner will return to Earth safely

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Stranded NASA astronauts express confidence in Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, assuring its capability to safely transport them back to Earth from the International Space Station.

The astronauts, over a video call to NASA, highlighted Starliner’s enhanced safety features and testing protocols as reassuring factors for their safe return.

“I have a real good feeling in my heart that this spacecraft will bring us home, no problem…”, said Sunita “Suni” Williams, one of the stranded NASA astronauts.

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Franchising vs. Independent: key differences to choosing the right SMB model

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With latest Australian Federal budget, many SMB’s are weighing their options when selecting a suitable business model.

Franchising provides brand recognition, operational support, and economies of scale but involves ongoing fees.

Independent businesses offer full control and profit retention but face higher costs and regulatory challenges.

For risk and reward, the franchising model reduces risk through established practices and support but involves ongoing fees and profit-sharing with the franchisor.

On the alternative, independent businesses retain full control of profits but face higher risks and responsibilities in managing the business.

Sonia Shwabsky, CEO at Kwik Kopy Australia, joins to share her key insights on SMB’s. #featured

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