Photo Medium
Photo Medium

Richard Branson Biography

Richard Branson, in full Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, was born on July 18, 1950 in Shamley Green, Surrey, England).

He is a British entrepreneur and adventurer, head of Virgin Group Ltd., and known for his publicity stunts and also for setting records in powerboat racing and hot-air ballooning.

Richard Branson Early Life

Richard Branson struggled in school and dropped out at age 16 — a decision that ultimately led to the creation of Virgin Records. His entrepreneurial projects started in the music industry and expanded into other sectors, including the space-tourism venture Virgin Galactic, making him a billionaire.

Branson dropped out at the age of 16 to start a youth-culture magazine called Student. The publication, run by students, sold $8,000 worth of advertising in its first edition, launched in 1966. The first run of 50,000 copies was disseminated for free, with Branson afterward covering the costs through advertising.

When the magazine began losing money in the late 1960s, he formed Virgin Mail Order Records (so named because Branson considered himself inexperienced in business) to raise funds, and in 1971 he opened the first British discount record store. In 1973 he helped form Virgin Records, which quickly became the principal label worldwide for punk and new wave. In 1984 he became the majority backer of the airline that he renamed Virgin Atlantic Airways. Beginning with a single aircraft, the carrier succeeded despite fierce opposition from established airlines, and in 1992 Branson sold Virgin Records to raise additional money for Virgin Atlantic.

Richard Branson Wife: Joan Templeman

Photo New York Times
Photo New York Times

Joan Templeman was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1948.

Her father worked as a ship carpenter to support her and her six siblings.

She was quite independent at an early age and worked in several jobs including running an antique store.

In 1966 she married her childhood sweetheart Ronnie Leahy but the pair got divorced in 1978.

It came as she met Branson, whom she married afterwards.

Templeman met the business magnate in 1976 at his Virgin Records studio.

The pair got married in 1989 at Branson's Necker Island, a 74-acre island at the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea.

In 2016 the couple celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, and the Virgin boss penned a love letter to Joan as a tribute.

The letter included: “I experienced love at first sight upon meeting a blonde-haired, down to earth, Scottish beauty named Joan, who just happened to be making a cup of tea.

“I generally make up my mind about someone within 30 seconds of meeting them, and Joan won my heart instantly. She was unlike any other women I had ever met.

“She was beautiful. She was bright. She was witty. She was down to earth. She was fun. And she had eyes made of magic.”

Branson and Templeman have a daughter named Holly who was born in 1981 and a son named Sam who was born in 1985.

During an interview with Piers Morgan Branson said the pair also had a daughter named Clare Sarah, who died when she was four days old in 1979.

Holly fullfilled her childhood dream of becoming a doctor and now holds a posistion at her father's company.

Sam is an actor and the co-founder of a production company called Sundog Pictures

Richard Branson Net Worth

To date, his net worth hovers around $6 billion, according to Forbes estimates. However, the British entrepreneur admits that his fortune never would have existed without the help of his late mother Eve Branson.

"It is no exaggeration to say I owe my career to mum," Richard Branson wrote in a public letter announcing the passing of his mother in early January.

Richard Branson Success: Steps by steps

By the 1990s the Virgin conglomerate, which was among the largest privately held companies in the United Kingdom, comprised some 100 businesses, including Virgin Megastores. In 2004 Branson formed Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company that was working toward offering commercial suborbital passenger flights. In 2006 Branson sold Virgin Mobile, a wireless phone service, though he remained the largest shareholder of the company, which was later renamed Virgin Media, Inc. That same year he formed the collaborative entertainment companies Virgin Comics LLC and Virgin Animation Private Limited.

Virgin Records

The first artist on the Virgin Records label, Mike Oldfield, recorded his single "Tubular Bells" in 1973 with the help of Branson's team. The song was an instant smash, staying on the UK charts for 247 weeks. Using the momentum of Oldfield's success, Branson then signed other aspiring musical groups to the label, including the Sex Pistols. Artists such as the Culture Club, the Rolling Stones and Genesis would follow, helping to make Virgin Music one of the top six record companies in the world.

Business Expansion

Branson expanded his entrepreneurial efforts yet again, this time to include the Voyager Group travel company in 1980, the Virgin Atlantic airline in 1984 and a series of Virgin Megastores. However, Branson's success was not always predictable, and by 1992, Virgin was suddenly struggling to stay financially afloat. The company was sold later that year to Thorn EMI for $1 billion.

Branson was crushed by the loss, reportedly crying after the contract was signed, but remained determined to stay in the music business. In 1993, he founded the station Virgin Radio, and in 1996 he started a second record company, V2, which signed artists such as Powder Finger and Tom Jones.

In late September 2004, Branson announced that Virgin would sponsor the SpaceShipOne X-Prize flights. Not only that, but if Scaled Composites won, Virgin was prepared to back the company's construction of commercial spacecraft.

"Virgin Galactic was now in a position to commence a program of work that would result in the world's first affordable space tourist flights in two to three years' time," the company announced. Registrations opened immediately.

Within days, the X-Prize competition was over. SpaceShipOne safely returned to Earth for the second time on Oct. 4, 2004. It was time to get to work on that spaceline.

Branson's interest in space also started early. He was just 19 when Apollo 11 touched down on the moon. According to Virgin Galactic's website, Branson watched the landings on televisionalong with his family. He "determined that he too will one day experience the wonder of space," Virgin Galactic wrote.

However, getting to space would require a shift in technology and deep pockets on the part of Branson. As of March 2012, Forbes estimates Branson has a fortune of $4.2 billion from his various ventures. The technology changes simply took time.

The first rocket-powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo took place in April 2013 and another followed in September 2013, then another in January 2014. Each flight went well, with Enterprise zooming high in the sky faster than the speed of sound.

But tragedy struck during the fourth rocket-powered flight, on Oct. 31, 2014, when the vehicle broke apart. The incident killed co-pilot Michael Alsbury and injured pilot Peter Siebold.

A blog post from Branson in early January 2015 said he briefly had doubts about whether it was a good idea to continue with SpaceShipTwo's development after the crash — but his commitment was renewed when he returned to California's Mojave Desert.

Virgin Galactic to reach space

Photo The Sun
Photo The Sun

Virgin Galactic—with its founder Sir Richard Branson on board—will on Sunday, July 11, 2021 undertake its first fully crewed rocket powered test flight and head to space at three times the speed of sound.

After 16 years of research and test flights, this 22nd test flight of the space tourism company’s Virgin Spaceship Unity (VSS Unity) supersonic jet-plane is the first of the final three scheduled before full commercial operations begin in 2022.

But there’s more. “When we return I will announce something very exciting to give more people the chance to become astronauts because space belongs to us all,” said Branson in a video last week. “So watch this space!”

When is Virgin Galactic’s Unity 22 mission?

As with anything this ambitious, exact timings are almost bound to drift, but Virgin Galactic has announced that the Unity 22 mission will begin at 9:00 am EDT on Sunday, July 11, 2021. That’s 6:00 am PDT, 7:00 am MDT and 2:00 pm BST.

However, that’s when the flight window opens. Virgin Galactic announced the date and time “pending weather and technical checks.” So it could happen in the days afterwards.

Who will be on Virgin Galactic’s Unity 22 mission

Although the cabin of the Virgin Spaceship Unity (VSS Unity) supersonic jet-plane has room for eightpassengers, Unity 22 will see six on board:

Chief Pilot: Dave Mackay.

Pilot: Michael Masucci.

Astronaut 001: Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Galactic (evaluating the customer experience).

Astronaut 002: Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor at Virgin Galactic (spaceship cabin lead and test director).

Astronaut 003: Colin Bennett, Lead Operations Engineer at Virgin Galactic (evaluating cabin procedures during boost and weightlessness).

Astronaut 004: Sirisha Bandla, Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations at Virgin Galactic (testing the researcher experience).

The last test flight on May 22, 2021 achieved a speed of Mach 3 and reached space at an altitude of 55.5 miles.

“I truly believe that space belongs to all of us,” said Branson. “After more than 16 years of research, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands at the vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to open space to humankind and change the world for good.”

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