Businessman Richard Branson may have created history by traveling to space as the first billionaire, but questions are also being raised on this historic trip. Renowned astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson has cast doubt on Richard Branson’s travels, asking whether Branson actually flew to space. Tyson is the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York.
NASA’s mission cited
In an interview given to CNN, Neil deGrasse Tyson said that in the true sense, Richard Branson did not go to space. He said, ‘First of all, it was suborbital. NASA did the same with Alan Shepard 60 years ago. It took off from Cape Canaveral and landed at sea. If you do not accelerate enough to reach space orbit, you will fall back to Earth’.
Tyson explained his point like this
Tyson questions Richard Branson’s travels by asking, “Have you gone high enough?” Did you enter space orbit? Have you really gone anywhere? Have you been to the Moon, to Mars or beyond? Using the globe to explain his point, he further said, ‘The International Space Station and a spacecraft orbit will be 1 cm away from the Earth, while the Moon will be as far as 10 meters. According to this scale, Richard Branson went about 2 mm above the surface’.
‘Went to take a nice view of Earth’
Tyson taunted that still if you want to call it space, then you want. You can say that because the average person had not reached there before. Therefore, it takes eight minutes to reach orbit and three days to reach the moon. Is what Richard did really space travel? All I would say is that he has only gone to get a good view of the earth.
This is just a visual effect
The famous astrophysicist said, ‘I do not know whether Richard Branson has gone to see the curve or not. But I have done some calculations and based on that the answer is ‘No’. If you are 2 millimetres away from the surface of this globe, you do not have full perspective. I would say it is the visual effect which you get at 50 miles up (about 80 kms). So have fun’.