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On March 5, Virgin Atlantic will hold a grand opening party for their new JFK lounge10,000 square feet of seating, cafe, bar, entertainment and Bumble & bumble salon (the first and only in-lounge salon in the US). In typical Virgin fashion, the party will be awesome, and its attendees will have the earliest glimpse of the flashy new digs.
So how do you get in? There's a contest, of course! Here's how to win:
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It’s not exactly time to bust out the celebration champagne just yet, but it sounds like Virgin Galactic is starting to make some serious progress in the commercial space race. There’s been roughly 75 test flights of WhiteKnightTwo—that’s the carrier plane—as well as several SpaceShipTwo voyages.
SpaceShipTwo will eventually do its thing as the suborbital space ship, and its been doing its best to glide back down to the ground after being dropped high in the sky from WhiteKnightTwo.
The real excitement and testing is going to come as soon as this summer, as that’s when they’ll fire up the rockets to send SpaceShipTwo a little bit higher into the sky. The goal is to eventually reach around 62 miles or so above the earth, where paying passengers can get a glimpse of the curvature of globe, the darkness of space, and experience sweet, sweet weightlessness. If all goes well it sounds like this might be possible by the end of the year, but it would only be the spaceship making the journey—no paying passengers just yet.
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Let's play a game! How many Virgin companies can you name off the top of your head?
Without looking it up, here's what we can come up with: Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic (who remembers Virgin Express?), V Australia, Virgin Australia, Virgin Galactic, Virgin Oceanic, Virgin Trains, Virgin Balloons, Virgin Megastores, Virgin Limobike, Virgin Money, Virgin Radio, Virgin Active, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Wines (!!) and wowso many more. Just mentioning the fact that we recently took a Virgin Train from London to Liverpool produced the following reaction from a friend: "THEY DO TRAINS TOO?!"
Yes indeed Virgin does do trains, and now there's something else to add to that long list of what they do do: Virgin Hotels. That's right; Sir Richard Branson wants you to sleep with him...finally.
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Branson and Al Gore at a past eco-event in 2007
Virgin CEO Richard Branson has had a busy day. Earlier in London, he gathered Virgin employees together at Battersea Power Station to announce that a new low-carbon fuel was being developed for use in powering Virgin Atlantic planes. It'd be "just half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative" and hopefully pushing planes through the sky from Shanghai and Delhi to London as soon as 2014.
It's kind of a big deal, and it means that Branson has given up on his earlier idea of creating jet fuel from coconut oil. This new stuff will be made from "waste gases from industrial steel production being captured, fermented and chemically converted using Swedish Biofuels technology." Intense! It's not just throwing garbage into the flux capacitor!
Alas, Virgin Atlantic isn't anywhere near alone on the Biofuels technology front...
So this is interesting. Virgin Group head honcho Richard Branson has contributed to a massive $85 million round of funding for microblogging site Tumblr. The New York Times broke the news first thing this morning, and it's already coursing through the interwebs like the hot gossip it is.
The money will go towards scaling up Tumblr and improving features for its 30 million blogs.
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Awesome, possibly game-changing news in the land of Oz from our friends at Australian Business Traveller! Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin group of airlines are no stranger to in-flight technology, and now it looks like Virgin Australia is next in line for an upgrade. The airline is working on all kinds of in-flight entertainment options behind the scenes, but the one we’re most interested in is WiFi access.
Don’t start emailing friends and family while traveling down under just yet, as it sounds like the wireless capabilities might be used for things other than watching YouTube videos. Virgin Australia is actually planning to use the connectivity to pass along new entertainment options—like movies and music—rather than just Internet access. However, we have our doubts that they’ll be able to resist offering in-flight connectivity to one and all once the technology is on board.
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The United States doesn't really have a space travel program any more, inasmuch as our leaders found better and more inspirational programs to fund than ones that have astronauts literally reaching for the stars (e.g. empty rural airports in the home states of powerful Senators).
The problem is that NASA still has engineers and scientists who need to run experiments in low-gravity and no-gravity conditions, and they'd kind of like to keep doing some of those. So agency officials looked around, scratched their collective heads, and checked if there was still anyone still doing that space flight thing.
And that's the short version of how Virgin Galactic became NASA's official sub-contracter. The press release is here, and if you click through make sure you at least read the bolded quote in the middle of the release. It's the longest string of words that mean the least that you'll ever encounter.
A few days ago, a brilliant CollegeHumor video spoof hit the net andcrazily enoughone of the first people to give it publicity was the spoof's target: Sir Richard Branson. The Virgin Group head honcho tweeted the link, effectively gave it his blessing and we've been saving it for a special days: Travel Tuesday.
We won't spoil it for you too much, except to say that our favorite part is the bit about the Billiard Room, and that some of the comments are predictably hilarious. Sample: "I thought this video would have airplane jousting...like 2 airplanes with massive jousting sticks flying towards each other."
Trust us that it's better than that. And as we know well from experience, there's only one boring thing about Richard Branson. So Collegehumor has it pretty spot-on after all, except they neglected to mention Branson's dream to wear red tights.
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Fill in the blank: "Richard Branson's heart is made of _________." Some possibly popular answers could be "billions of dollars," "Virgin red," or even "charity," but really if you take it literally, Richard Branson's heart is made of island. Nope, not his beloved Necker Island in the Caribbean, but his other island, a heart-shaped in Australia's Noosa River. It's name is Makepeace Island, and Branson bought it back in 2003 with the intention of turning it into an eco-retreat for crew of his Virgin Australia airline (then called Virgin Blue).
Makepeace Island has hit the headlines today, however, because it's now open to the paying public, if you've got at least 7,900 AUD ($8,300) per night. Its spent its last few years as a private retreat for Branson's family and that of the CEO of Virgin Australia, but we guess they've got other places to go and people to see now.
For takers, the 25-acre island offers Balinese-style accommodations for up to 22 guests, and it's not out in the middle of nowhere either. Makepeace is only a quick riverboat hop from the heart of tourism in Australia's "Sunshine Coast." Oh yea, and it's got volcanic boulder bathtubs:
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Branson dressed as a boxer. He's quite the knockout (get it?).
After much scientific testing, complicated measuring and grueling research, we've come to the very important conclusion that it is impossible to think Virgin Group main man Sir Richard Branson is anything but extremely awesome. C'monthe man kite-boards with naked models, says he wants to build a spaceship and then actually does it, saves the world daily with his many charities, and yet still has time to sit down with us for a quick chat.
We last caught up with Sir Richard onboard Virgin America's inaugural flight to Chicago-O'Hare. As for all other monumental occasions in his family of Virgin brands, Branson donned a fun costume and parades around for the cameras, bursting with vim and vigor. This got us thinking. What costume, after all these years of dressing wacky for promotional stunts, does Richard really wish he could wear? So we asked him.
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Today marks the 25th Anniversary of Virgin Atlantic flights to Miami, and to celebrate it, Virgin CEO Richard Branson will walk out along the wing of one of his planes and party it up. It's just a typical day for Branson, jetting around as he does to check on his multitude of Virgin brands and still somehow chipping in to lend a hand in the world.
So where does he get all the energy to do this? Well, it probably helps that Branson has the money and personal assistants needed to pull off a packed schedule without a hitch, but let's not forget good old coffee.
Recently when we had a chance to sit down with Branson, following the very first Virgin America flight to ORD, we noticed he was toting quite the sizeable Starbucks cup. So what does a billionaire jetsetter order?
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While Chicago did what it does best last night (have crazy weather), Virgin America played to their own strengths for the LAX and SFO flight party (catch our liveblog from in the air here). Aside from flying around the country, what else is VX good at? Oh...just throwing parties, having hot flight attendants parade around, and keeping everyone quite well lubricated (with Virgin Wines, no less).
The shindig went down on the roof of the theWit Hotel, where everyone from The Office's Creed Bratton to Entourage's Adrian Grenier to Tim Meadows swilled cocktails like the "Virgin Smackdown" (La Marca Prosecco and a splash of Chambord) and noshed on pizzas with cute names like "Pie in the Sky" (grilled chicken, arugula pesto, prosciutto, fig jam and parmesan).