Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: virgingalactic.com/wiki
Richard Branson planned to take a Pride flag into space with him for his Virgin Galactic mission, it has emerged.
The businessman flew to the edge of space and back in his Virgin Galactic passenger rocket plane yesterday (12 July 2021), sharing footage of the voyage across social media.
In a preceding interview, he revealed he was taking the Pride symbol in honour of the 49 people killed by gunman Omar Mateen during the shooting at gay nightclub Pulse on 12 July 2016.
"We also have many, many friends who are gay"
"Somebody who lost a loved one at the Orlando massacre asked if I would do that," the 70-year-old told The Mail On Sunday.
"We also have many, many friends who are gay and I know people who lost friends there," he added.
In a video shared to Twitter, the Pride flag appeared to take the form of a rainbow ribbon attached to Branson's spacesuit.
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Mateen, who was shot and killed after a three-hour standoff with police, wounded a further 53 people during the massacre. Most of his victims were LGBTQ.
Elsewhere in the interview, Branson said: "The last bit of advice I have been given from other astronauts is do not take a camera, do not take notebooks, just look out of the window and look back at this incredible world we live in and take it all in."
My mission statement is to turn the dream of space travel into a reality - for my grandchildren, for your grandchildren, for everyone.
Watch the launch of the next space age at 6 am PT | 9 am ET | 2 pm BST on https://t.co/1313b4RAKI @virgingalactic #Unity22 pic.twitter.com/JpqXx8cy04— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 11, 2021
The 59-minute flight reached 55 miles above the Earth's surface and allowed passangers to experience weightlessness.
Kicking off the voyage, Branson tweeted: "Welcome to the dawn of a new space age."
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