Richard Branson Fast Facts

CNN  — 

Here’s a look at the life of the founder of Virgin Group, Ltd., Richard Branson.


Birth date: July 18, 1950

Birth place: Surrey, England

Birth name: Richard Charles Nicholas Branson

Father: Edward Branson, lawyer

Mother: Eve (Huntley-Flindt) Branson, flight attendant

Marriages: Joan (Templeman) Branson (1989-present); Kristen (Tomassi) Branson (1972-1976, divorced)

Children: with Joan Branson: Clare Sarah, born and died in 1979, Holly and Sam

Other Facts

Struggled in school due to dyslexia.

Signed notable artists such as the Sex Pistols, Culture Club, the Rolling Stones and Genesis to the Virgin Records label.

Some of his possessions over time have included at least three islands, a super-yacht and a submarine.

The Virgin Group brand has spawned more than 400 worldwide companies, in leisure, travel, tourism, mobile, broadband, media, finance, conservation and health.


1966 - Starts the magazine “Student” shortly before dropping out of school at the age of 16.

1970 - Founds Virgin, a mail-order record company, and shortly thereafter a record store in London.

1971 - Forms the Virgin Records music label and builds a recording studio.

1973 - Branson’s first signed artist, Mike Oldfield, releases the single “Tubular Bells,” which stays on the UK charts for 247 weeks.

1984 - Forms Virgin Atlantic airlines.

1987 - Branson and Per Lindstrand become the first people to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a hot-air balloon.

1992 - Branson sells Virgin Music Group to Thorn EMI. He says that the sale will allow him to concentrate on his airline, Virgin Atlantic.

1999 - Is knighted for his contributions to entrepreneurship.

June 2004 - Branson crosses the English Channel in one hour, 40 minutes and six seconds in an amphibious vehicle, setting a world record.

September 27, 2004 - Branson announces a licensing deal with Mojave Aerospace Ventures to ultimately offer commercial space flights through Virgin Galactic.

December 7, 2009 - Branson unveils SpaceShipTwo, named VSS Enterprise, a commercial spacecraft designed to send passengers into orbit for $200,000 a ticket.

January 29, 2010 - Reveals the Necker Nymph, a three-person submarine that can dive more than 100 feet.

August 23, 2011 - Fire, ignited by a lightning strike, destroys Branson’s house on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. Approximately 20 people, including Branson, members of his family and actress Kate Winslet, escape unharmed.

July 2012 - Becomes the oldest person to kitesurf the English Channel.

November 22, 2013 - Branson announces that travelers for his commercial space travel flight can pay with the digital currency Bitcoin.

October 31, 2014 - SpaceShipTwo explodes during a test flight, killing one pilot and injuring the other.

February 19, 2016 - Virgin Galactic unveils a new spaceship. It is a replacement for the one that crashed in 2014.

December 2018 - Branson joins Fabien Cousteau and submarine pilot, Erika Bergman, on a historic expedition to the bottom of Belize’s Great Blue Hole, the world’s largest sinkhole.

May 10, 2019 - Virgin Galactic announces that it will move its spacecraft and 100 of its workers to a building called Spaceport America in New Mexico. They will join about 50 other employees already working there.

June 22, 2020 - Virgin Galactic announces that it has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to train private astronauts and coordinate potential trips to the International Space Station.

July 1, 2020 - Virgin Galactic announces that Branson will be on its July 11 test flight to space.

July 11, 2021 - Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity space plane carrying Branson and three colleagues launches from Spaceport America in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. After a successful detachment from its mothership WhiteKnightTwo, the space plane makes a return landing at Spaceport America.

April 3, 2023 - Virgin Orbit, the rocket company founded by Branson, files for bankruptcy in the United States.