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WASHINGTON — Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson has his sights set on reaching space to mark this year's 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, he said amid celebrations of his company's first successful spaceflight.
Present and hopeful future astronauts gathered in Washington, D.C., yesterday (Feb. 7) alongside space enthusiasts, students and rocket engineers to celebrate Virgin Galactic's successful flight on Dec. 13. Amid all of the optimism and congratulations, Branson told Space.com he hopes to make a similar trip on July 16, 50 years to the day after the Apollo 11 astronauts blasted off for the moon.
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Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson at a ceremony unveiling Virgin Galactic's donation to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum — the rocket motor from SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity.
"It's tremendously exciting and, you know, I would ideally love to be able to go up on the actual anniversary. You never know my luck, I'm working towards that," Branson said after unveiling the rocket motor from SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum's collection where Virgin Galactic and its manufacturing counterpart, The Spaceship Co. (TSC), donated the motor.
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Richard Branson prepares to don a "Future Astronaut Training Program" T-shirt, given to him by Astronaut Mark Stucky (who no longer qualifies as a "future astronaut"), alongside Ellen Stofan, the director of the National Air and Space Museum.
Previously, Branson has said that he would travel aboard Virgin Galactic's Unity spacecraft as its first passenger. The company intends for the craft to transport paying customers to space and back on suborbital flights, furthering the commercial space industry and opening up space to more people.
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