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Billionaire Richard Branson Announces Cancellation Of Virgin Galactic After Suffering Severe Airsickness From Flight

Branson second guesses whether space travel will have a market due to airsickness problems.

Published January 12, 2014


LONDON – Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s commercial “spaceline,” completed its third rocket-powered supersonic test flight with its SpaceShipTwo craft, soaring to 71,000 feet for the first time.  The flight, however, might be Virgin Galactic’s last.  The problem might lie with its first civilian passenger – also its owner.

Branson was aboard the test flight, and he appeared shaken after emerging from the spacecraft.  His flight suit was visibly soiled from what appeared to be the result of airsickness.

“I’m going back to selling Janet Jackson albums.  That nausea only lasts 35 minutes.” 

At an already scheduled news conference several hours later, Branson told a roomful of reporters as well as somber Virgin Galactic engineers that he was cancelling the project.  “I have seen the edge of space, and I, and I imagine everyone, will prefer it right here,” he said.  Branson went on to describe “horrific” air sickness that began “five seconds” after liftoff and did not end until “20 minutes ago after my doctor shoved a suppository” into its proper destination.

Several Virgin Galactic engineers were reduced to tears at the prospect of losing their fledgling space enterprise, and executives and attorneys whispered in Branson’s ears as he spoke.  Branson would not, however, be dissuaded. 

“This all started because I watched a lot of silly American movies as a kid,” he said.  “The truth is the human body does not like multiple G’s of force, and, in retrospect, the notion of wealthy people paying to be terribly sick for three hours was ignorant,” he continued.

The mercurial billionaire and adventurer has not made any further official statements about the future of Virgin Galactic.  In a tweet, however, he hinted that he has not changed his mind since the press conference: “After yesterday, I’m going back to selling Janet Jackson albums.  That nausea only lasts 42 minutes.”