Richard Branson, the Virgin Galactic founder, said Elon Musk paid him a surprise visit in the middle of the night with his infant son shortly before Branson’s first spaceflight.
“I think it was about 2:30 a.m.,” Branson told The Sunday Times, recalling the morning of July 11, 2021, ahead of his flight to space. “I woke up two hours earlier than I was meant to and jumped out of bed, and then actually realized I’d got the wrong time but by then I was wide awake.”
Branson, who was part of Virgin Galactic’s first crew to fly to space, served as a “mission specialist” to test the passenger experience.
He said that after waking, he went to the kitchen in his home near the Virgin Galactic spaceport in New Mexico for coffee and found a barefoot Musk standing there.
Branson told the newspaper that Musk “had decided to surprise us” to wish his friend luck on his debut flight.
“Basically, he’s a night animal. He doesn’t really sleep at night and gets his sleep in the daytime,” he added. “We made a pot of tea and sat outside under the stars and caught up.”
The SpaceX CEO also went to the launch site to watch the flight. He later told Branson, “Congratulations, beautiful flight!”
Virgin Galactic’s next flight is scheduled for this summer. Branson told The Sunday Times that while he’d be “delighted” if Musk could fly sometime, “he’s obviously got his hands full at the moment,” referring to Musk’s Twitter takeover.
Branson described Musk as “tremendously smart and even more driven,” said he admired “his talent and his willingness to take calculated risks,” and applauded his determination despite failures. “He’s the Henry Ford of his generation,” Branson said.
Musk didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.