'Planes Just Can't Compete:' Elon Musk Boasts Rocket-Booster Superiority After Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic Completes Tourist Flight

Rocket boosters are better for orbital spaceflights as compared to planes, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Saturday, hours after Richard Branson‘s Virgin Galactic Holdings SPCE took tourists to the edge of space and back on its VSS Unity spaceplane.

What Happened: Virgin Galactic on Saturday launched four tourists to a maximum altitude of 54.4 miles aboard its air-launched VSS Unity spaceplane, marking its second spaceflight this year.

The Galactic 07 mission marked the last commercial flight for the spaceplane before the company replaced it with its Delta class spaceships, expected to enter commercial flight in 2026.

Virgin Galactic uses a custom-built, four-engine, jet carrier aircraft called VMS Eve to take its VSS Unity to release altitude. The spaceplane then goes on to a maximum altitude that enables views of Earth from space before returning back.

Musk’s Take: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, however, believes rocket boosters are superior to planes. “Cool, but it's better to use a rocket booster. Planes just can't compete when it comes to orbital Spaceflight,” Musk wrote on social media platform X on Saturday night.

The CEO was responding to a proposal that pegged the use of the high-altitude, high-speed manned strategic bomber XB-70 as a recoverable launch booster to launch an orbital spaceplane.

Musk’s SpaceX employs rocket boosters on its workhorse Falcon 9 launch vehicle designed to take people and payload to Earth’s orbit as well as its more ambitious Starship launch vehicle expected to take humans back to the surface of the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis mission.

Further, unlike Virgin Galactic which has completed only 12 missions to date, SpaceX has completed 355 launches despite the two being founded in the early 2000s in a gap of about 2 years.

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Read More: Elon Musk’s Boring Company Is Making A Tunnel At Giga Texas For Transporting Cybertrucks

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