Richard Branson in space #Unity22

Virgin Galactic successfully completed their first sub-orbital crewed spaceflight on Sunday, July 11, with Sir Richard Branson on board, bringing the future of commercial space travel one step closer to becoming a reality. Following Branson, Blue Origin’s founder, Jeff Bezos, will blast off into space on July 20th aboard the New Shepard spacecraft. Joining the likes of Elon Musk, Bezos and Branson are blazing the trail for the future of aviation with reusable parts and making space exploration more accessible to all. The emerging commercial space marketplace offers a future that is out of this world and is exciting for aviation enthusiasts across the world.

Sir Richard Branson said:

“I have dreamt about this moment since I was a child, but nothing could have prepared me for the view of Earth from space. We are at the vanguard of a new space age. As Virgin’s founder, I was honoured to test the incredible customer experience as part of this remarkable crew of mission specialists and now astronauts. I can’t wait to share this experience with aspiring astronauts around the world.”

Erik Lindbergh and Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipOne, which won the $10 million Ansari X Prize in 2004.

Innovation in the aviation industry is not new to aviation enthusiast Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh, philanthropist, and XPRIZE co-founder who had some thoughts about Sunday’s events.

“It was incredibly empowering to be a part of a small group of people who changed the way the world thinks about space travel with the Ansari XPRIZE. We jump-started the private spaceflight industry that Branson, Musk and Bezos are opening up to paying passengers! Not only that, we re-invented the prize philanthropy industry – using it vigorously to solve the grand challenges facing humanity. To date we have offered $200 million in prizes, the latest being the Elon Musk Carbon Removal XPRIZE. Most importantly, these prizes give us hope and solutions for a brilliant future – the best is yet to be…”

Lindbergh’s own passion for the future of space travel is paving the way for green solutions with a business that develops electric propulsion systems for aircraft. VerdeGo Aero wants to power the electric flight revolution. As many companies compete for space in the eVTOL market, VerdeGo Aero is on the cutting edge of creating battery-electric aircraft and hybrid-electric propulsion that is clean, economical, quiet and sustainable.

Virgin Galactic’s First Spaceflight on December 13th 2018

Being a part of the green revolution matches Lindbergh’s philosophy, given he sits on the board of XPRIZE, with its latest competition being aimed at carbon removal. On the XPRIZE website, the mission states that they “aim to create a world where everyone’s days are spent imagining, creating, and collaborating, not fearing and fighting.” Along with Elon Musk and a board of directors that is peppered with a host of the greatest minds on the planet, Lindbergh’s vision is humanitarian: to improve the lives of all humankind, and philanthropy is at the heart of Lindbergh’s endeavors.

As a proponent of prize philanthropy, Erik raised over $1 million and 500 million (pre-social media) media impressions for XPRIZE by retracing his grandfather’s groundbreaking 1927 New York to Paris solo flight. Of his three aims (sustainable flight, zero carbon emissions, and prize philanthropy), Lindbergh believes philanthropy is the most important to him. He helped to launch XPRIZE in 1996 to promote space tourism and continues to serve on the XPRIZE executive board. Additionally, the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize, or LEAP, Lindbergh’s own prize philanthropy, matches high school and college students with corporate engineers to work together on the development of meaningful advances in the electric aircraft industry.

Virgin Spaceship Unity (VSS Unity) touches down after flying freely for the first time after being released from Virgin Mothership Eve (VMS Eve) on 3rd, December 2016 in the Mojave Desert.

Additionally, commercial space travel is opening the doors to diversity, facilitating collaboration between global companies with a unique interconnectedness. Like his trailblazing colleagues, Erik looks to the future, and Branson’s flight last Sunday has all the world looking up and beyond while at the same time looking back to the place affectionately called home.

Gleim celebrates all of those blazing the trails of the future of aviation. We are excited to help thousands of people every year make their dreams come true by helping them pass their FAA aviation exams with confidence. For more information about how you can start your aviation training to become a pilot or mechanic, or expand your aviation skills and certifications, visit www.GleimAviation.com or contact an Aviation Training Consultant at 800-874-5346, ext. 471.

Written by: Maureen Shankman, Aviation STEM Coordinator