Branson’s impact on commercial space race will be huge, says former NASA astronaut

1 year ago

Retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott told CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith" that Virgin Galactic's successful first fully crewed test flight into suborbital space Sunday will have a big impact on the commercial space race. 

"I think it's going to be huge," said Stott. "We're on that cusp, right, going over the edge just like they did yesterday, and I think it's just going to accelerate from here."

The company's spacecraft, VSS Unity, launched into the skies above New Mexico, with two pilots guiding the vehicle carrying the billionaire founder Sir Richard Branson and three Virgin Galactic employees. It was a major milestone in the commercial space race and a step toward its goal of commercial service in 2022.

Host Shepard Smith asked Stott what she thinks of critics who say Branson didn't really go to space, because his trip was suborbital. The veteran NASA astronaut, who spent 104 days living and working in space, noted that the agency considers space 50 miles above Earth's surface. She added, "I think we have better things to argue about, right?"

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