Following is a summary of current science news briefs.
Billionaire Branson soars to space aboard Virgin Galactic flight
British billionaire Richard Branson on Sunday soared more than 50 miles above the New Mexico desert aboard his Virgin Galactic rocket plane and safely returned in the vehicle’s first fully crewed test flight to space, a symbolic milestone for a venture he started 17 years ago. Branson, one of six Virgin Galactic Holding Inc employees strapped in for the ride, has touted the mission as a precursor to a new era of space tourism, with the company he founded in 2004 poised to begin commercial operations next year.
Israeli lunar landing venture says it secures $70 million for 2024 launch
An Israeli space group is on course to make its second attempt at an unmanned lunar landing in 2024 after securing $70 million in private funding for the mission. The SpaceIL organisation said on Sunday that Patrick Drahi, a Franco-Israeli billionaire and controlling shareholder of Altice Europe, would donate the funds along with SpaceIL chairman Morris Kahn and South African businessman Martin Moshal.
(With inputs from agencies.)