The space plane carrying Richard Branson lifts off from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, on Sunday, July 11.
Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

In photos: Richard Branson's historic spaceflight

Updated 2:49 PM ET, Sun July 11, 2021

The space plane carrying Richard Branson lifts off from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, on Sunday, July 11.
Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Richard Branson, through his company Virgin Galactic, is now the first billionaire to travel to space aboard a spacecraft he helped fund.

"We're here to make space more accessible to all," he said. "We want to turn the next generation of dreamers into the astronauts of today and tomorrow."

The trip came nine days before the world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, is scheduled to make his own spaceflight.

Since the early 2000s, Branson and Bezos have been vying to develop, test and launch suborbital rockets that can take wealthy thrill-seekers on brief rides a few dozen miles above Earth. Their efforts have long been framed as a "billionaire space race."