In a few hours from now, business tycoon Sir Richard Branson is all set to make history by becoming the first billionaire to fly into outer space. But Branson is not the only one eyeing the coveted distinction.
Billionaire and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is also set for a space mission. He is scheduled to fly into outer space later this month.
For whom do Indians cheer for in this space race? The answer is – “Namma ooru payan [Our country boy] Sir Richard”.
READ: Explainer: How Richard Branson will ride own rocket to space
In December of 2019, Sir Richard Branson had revealed his ties to India at a press conference during the launch of Virgin Atlantic’s flight from Mumbai to London. He had told reporters that a DNA test revealed how some of his ancestors were of Indian descent.
Richard’s India connect
Sir Richard Branson had even said in a social media post, “Great to be in India to celebrate @virginatlantic’s new route to Mumbai and join #AnandMahindra for our Business Is An Adventure event. We also unveiled our newest flying icon, named Aria, after my great great great grandfather’s wife who was Indian.”
“I knew that I had past generations living in India, but hadn’t realised how strong our connections were. So, it turned out that from 1793, we had four generations living here in Cuddalore and one of my great, great, great grandmothers was an Indian named Aria who was married to one of my great, great, great grandfathers,” Sir Richard Branson had told reporters.
He added, “Every time I meet an Indian, I say we might be relatives.”
Sir Richard Branson will be a part of his company Virgin Galactic’s first spaceflight with a crew. The “VSS Unity” has a six-member crew that will take off from New Mexico on July 11.
While making the announcement about his journey to outer space, Sir Richard Branson said in a tweet, “I have always been a dreamer. My mum taught me to never give up and to reach for the stars. On July 11, it is time to turn that dream into a reality aboard the next @VirginGalactic spaceflight.”
I’ve always been a dreamer. My mum taught me to never give up and to reach for the stars. On July 11, it’s time to turn that dream into a reality aboard the next @VirginGalactic spaceflight https://t.co/x0ksfnuEQ3 #Unity22 pic.twitter.com/GWskcMSXyA— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 1, 2021
Interestingly, VSS Unity will also have a crew member of Indian origin – Sirisha Bandla. The 34-year-old aeronautical engineer had said in a tweet earlier, “I am so incredibly honoured to be a part of the amazing crew of #Unity22, and to be a part of a company whose mission is to make space available to all.”
The Unity 22 mission will be VSS Unity’s twenty-second test flight, and this is Virgin Galactic’s fourth spaceflight with a crew onboard. Additionally, it has the credit of being the first spaceflight with two pilots and four mission specialists inside the cabin, including the company’s founder, ‘Namma ooru payan’ Sir Richard Branson.