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Richard Branson won the space tourism battle, but his company lost the war

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Richard Branson was flying high in VSS Unity a year ago. Today?

Enlarge / Richard Branson was flying high in VSS Unity a year ago. Today? (credit: Virgin Galactic)

It has been 12 months to the day since Sir Richard Branson briefly departed this world, only to make a feathery return back to Earth, landing on a hot, dusty runway in rural New Mexico.

The flight marked a triumphant moment for Branson, who, just a week before turning 71 years old, fulfilled a childhood dream of going to space. In doing so, Branson beat fellow space-obsessed billionaire Jeff Bezos to the punch. The exuberance about his flight—and what it promised for Virgin Galactic—helped push his company's stock above $50 a share.

As Richard Branson went to space, he and his company seemed to be on top of the world.

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