Richard Branson is closing in on winning the billionaire space race withJeff Bezos-- because Virgin Galactic now has a flight planned for next weekend, and the British billionaire will be onboard.
Richard's company announced plans Thursday to launch the rocket-fueled flight July 11 ... just 9 days before Bezos plans to travel to suborbital space July 20 with his Blue Origin mission.
Virgin Galactic says Branson will be joined by 2 pilots and 3 other astronauts on the spaceflight, with Richard "testing the private astronaut experience" ... a fancy phrase for the views from space, the cabin, seating and zero gravity.
Richard's company says the spaceflight on Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo rocket plane will stream live on social media, and the mission's been dubbed "Unity 22."
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If all goes according to plan, Virgin Galactic and Richard will beat Blue Origin and Bezos by a healthy margin.