Recently, Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, was a part of the Virgin Galactic space flight on July 11, making space more accessible to everyone. Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder is set to lift off on his suborbital space vehicle ‘New Shepard’ on 20 July. However, did Branson actually make it to space? Many scientists are questioning Branson’s space visit. Neil Degrasse Tyson, science writer, astrophysicist, and author, will explain it to us. 


Neil Degrasse Tyson believes Richard Branson did not go to space, as the real accepted space border is 100 km above the mean sea level. It is also called the Karam line, named after Theodore von Kármán, a Hungarian American engineer and physicist. But Branson’s flight returned from 86 km above the surface of the Earth.

 “First of all, it was suborbital. NASA did it 60 years ago with Alan Shepard, took off from Cape Canaveral and landed in the ocean. If you don’t go fast enough to reach orbit you will fall and return to Earth”, Tyson explained in an interview with CNN. 

Branson’s flight did not actually go into ‘space’ or into orbit. He further explained the relative distance between the Earth, artificial satellites and the Moon. With the help of a globe Neil stated, International Space Station and a spacecraft orbit would be 1 cm away from Earth, and the moon is as far away as 10 metres. So, as per this scale, Richard Branson flight went up till around 2 mm from the surface.

Following Brandson’s visit to space, Bezos’ flight was a suborbital jaunt, which means he and his crew members didn’t actually enter into orbit around Earth.

Bezos further described “It’s actually incredibly thin, It’s one thing to recognize that intellectually. It’s another thing to see with your own eyes how fragile it is.”

“It’s okay if you want to call it ‘space’ because average humans haven’t gotten there before and it’s a first for you. That’s why it takes eight minutes to get into orbit and three days to reach the moon. That is actually space travel. So I don’t see it as ‘oh, let’s go into space’. No. What you are going to have is a nice view of the Earth,” Neil added.