Remember a few days ago when billionaire-knight Sir Richard Branson strapped into a sleek-looking rocket plane with a few close friends and flew up to just about the edge of space? I mean, not quite space by most international standards, but pretty damn close. You may also remember that in the livestream video of the historic-ish event, Branson was shown riding his bike, all athletic and shit, to the launch. Well, it looks like that part’s not really so true. Sorry.
It’s not like Virgin Galactic wasn’t pushing the bike ride as what happened. You can see the whole spiel in the livestream, which, in case you forgot that first half of the compound word “livestream,” was supposed to be live:
Did you catch how that clip started? The host, Veronica McGowan with the cool VSS Unity spaceplane earrings and who is a structural design engineer for Virgin Galactic just comes out and says
“Let’s take a look at how they arrived to Spaceport America.”
...and immediately after that we get some subtly inspirational background music and shots of Sir Richard in his bike gear riding his bicycle down the middle of the road, flanked by a pair of Range Rover Sports, which we all know is the best way to bike:
Just to really sell it to you even more, there’s a bug on the screen that reads EARLIER TODAY so you know, absolutely and for sure, that this happened earlier that day, with Richard Branson in bike shorts pedaling his way to the spaceplane that’s about to take him in a big parabola 53 miles up and back down again.
The only problem is that’s not really what happened.
Branson, a very healthy goatee and shock of white hair with a person beneath them to provide mobility and operate equipment, did not really ride his bike to the launch on the day of, being told that he’s running late and has to quickly suit up to hop into the spaceplane, which, I suppose, would have just left without him?
No, the reality is the bike footage was shot almost a week before the flight, because of course it was, as there’s no way anyone involved is going to let a 70-year-old-man, no matter how leathery and healthy he is, ride a bicycle to the launch of a spaceplane everyone there has so much riding on.
An anonymous Virgin Galactic official confirmed this to Reuters via text message:
“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.”
Misidentified? Motherfuckers, please. You “regret the error and any confusion?” Oh, come on. You all knew exactly what you were doing, and wanted people to think that the dude everyone calls “Sir Richard” or, more creepily “Our Founder,” is such a supple bag of dripping manstuff that of course he biked to his space launch, but only because there wasn’t a convenient bronco around for him to break and then ride to the spaceport.
It’s all just so embarrassing. Like this bit that comes next:
From the “open sesame” to the weird James Bond-ish commentary with the “license to thrill” part. They keep at it, with the host then saying “what a way to start on your journey, first on a bike, then on a spaceship...” I mean come on, we get it, Richard can achieve and maintain powerful, functional erections. Got it. Making a note.
What’s so bonkers about all of this is the fact they felt they needed to do the bike bit at all. It’s not enough to be going up in a great-looking, highly advanced spaceplane and tickling the scrotum of the cosmos?
I know Branson has received his fair share of criticism about the flight and the whole silly competition with Jeff Bezos, who will be going on his own parabolic sub-orbital flight soon, but I’m actually very pro-human spaceflight, even for such ego-fellating tourism flights like these.
More access to space is more access to space, period, and I see this as a good thing. Let these guys spend the money to develop more and more accessible paths to space and, ideally, we’ll see benefits from the development that go far beyond just thrill rides: better and quicker travel around the globe, quicker transport of goods, new technological developments and industries. I’m confident there will be developments from this that improve life for more people than billionaires.
That said, the fake bike thing is still idiotic and actually harms the whole project. In a world where it’s already so hard to trust what one sees online, and for a population where there are still alarming numbers of morons who don’t think the NASA moon landings were real, why conflate fiction in a narrative like this, which could cause all of the real work to be needlessly questioned?
It’s positively insane we live in an era where there’s a video about a man riding a bike to go on a flight of a rocket-powered spaceplane, and it’s the fucking bike ride that was the fake part.
Man, billionaires. Why are they all such insecure dipshits?