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Virgin Galactic Faked Sir Richard Branson’s Pre-Flight Bike Ride

Last weekend, space history was written when, after 15 years, Virgin Galactic was able to become the first company to ferry the first private astronaut close to the edge of space and back down. That first private astronaut was none other than founder and CEO Sir Richard Branson.
Sir Richard Branson supposedly rode a bike to the Virgin Galactic launch, but it never happened 15 photos
Range Rover Astronaut EditionLand Rover supporting Virgin Galactic's fourth crewed missionLand Rover supporting Virgin Galactic's fourth crewed missionLand Rover supporting Virgin Galactic's fourth crewed missionLand Rover supporting Virgin Galactic's fourth crewed missionVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on it
The event was livestreamed on a variety of channels, with Branson arriving at Spaceport America in New Mexico on a custom Trek bike, flanked by a pair of white Range Rover Sports. This was no accidental product placement, as both Trek Bicycle Corp and Land Rover were official partners of Virgin Galactic in the launch.

Despite the fact that a note on the screen said “Earlier today” and there were at least a couple of references at how Branson rode his bike to the launch, none of it was true. Reuters notes that questions about the timing of the ride started circulating after Unity 22 spaceplane landed back to base, so it reached out to Virgin Galactic for clarification.

It has come back, and it’s all sorts of hilarious. In case you didn’t get the message from the background motivational music and Branson’s James Bond-inspired speech upon signing his name in the flight ledger, that whole part was fake. It didn’t really happen at the time specified and was, most likely, scripted.

“The footage of Sir Richard Branson shown during the event Sunday was prerecorded and misidentified in the broadcast. We regret the error and any confusion it may have caused,” a Virgin official tells Reuters by text, under the cover of anonymity. The segment was taped the day before the launch.

The fact that Branson rode a custom Trek bike for the launch was also touted by Trek, and it’s yet to issue a statement on the lie. The image of the 70-year-old biking into work is certainly in keeping with his adventurer image (Branson is a passionate cyclist), but the suggestion that they held up the launch so he could get there (“Hurry up, you’re late,” one assistant tells him as he takes his helmet) or that they’d let him ride into the station ahead of such a historic launch is hilarious. The same goes for the image of Branson cycling while flanked by cars, which is too dramatic to ever happen in real life.

Virgin Galactic is yet to issue an official statement on the pre-flight biking kerfuffle but, as things stand, it has no other choice but to do so soon. Lest other details about the flight be called into question.



 
 
 
 
 

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