The head of the Russian state space agency – Roscosmos criticized Russian billionaires on Sunday for wasting their money on earthly possessions and suggested they invest in space exploration.
Dmitry Rogozin called British billionaire Richard Branson’s suborbital flight a “landmark event.” The Virgin Galactic founder’s spaceplane took the 70-year-old and a crew of three up about 62 miles, briefly exposing them to zero gravity.
“I hope that our billionaire oligarchs will someday start spending their money on advancing space technologies and the knowledge of cosmos, rather than on more yachts and all this vanity fair,” Rogozin wrote on social media.
Earlier, Virgin Galactic spaceplane Unity carrying a crew of four, including British billionaire Richard Branson, dipped into space and returned to Earth safely, a live stream of the event showed Sunday.
After separating from the mothership, Unity went up about 62 miles, briefly exposing the crew to zero gravity. This marked Unity’s first test of a fully crewed suborbital flight, helping Branson-founded Virgin Galactic to demonstrate that space tourism is safe.
By going into space, 70-year-old Branson has also beat two other billionaire space enthusiasts who plan to leave the Earth in spaceships of their own.
Amazon and Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos, who will fly into space on his New Shepard space shuttle on July 20, tweeted “congratulations on the flight. Can’t wait to join the club!”
Elon Musk, who hopes to send his first space tourist into orbit in a reusable SpaceX Dragon capsule in September, said to Branson in a message “Congratulations, beautiful flight!”
“I was once a child with a dream looking up to the stars. Now I’m an adult in a spaceship looking down to our beautiful Earth. To the next generation of dreamers: if we can do this, just imagine what you can do,” Branson had tweeted.