Richard Branson Is Going to Space — Just Over a Week Before Fellow Billionaire Jeff Bezos

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Virgin Galactic

Sir Richard Branson is heading to space!

The 70-year-old founder of Virgin Galactic announced Thursday that he will travel to space as a mission specialist aboard his company's VSS Unity on July 11, beating Jeff Bezos' expedition into space by nine days.

Branson will be among a six-person crew on the "Unity 22" mission, which is scheduled to take off from New Mexico ahead of Bezos' New Shepard rocket, which will depart on July 20 from Van Horn, Texas.

Joining him on his mission will be pilots Dave MacKay and Michael Masucci, as well as Virgin Galactic's chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett and Sirisha Bandla, the company's vice president for government affairs and research operations.

The forthcoming trip to space will be Virgin Galactic's fourth crewed spaceflight and the VSS Unity's twenty-second flight test, the company said.

RELATED: Jeff Bezos Traveling to Space with His Brother in July: 'Greatest Adventure with My Best Friend'

Virgin Galactic

"I truly believe that space belongs to all of us. After more than 16 years of research, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands at the vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to open space to humankind and change the world for good," Branson said in a press release. "It's one thing to have a dream of making space more accessible to all; it's another for an incredible team to collectively turn that dream into reality."

"As part of a remarkable crew of mission specialists, I'm honored to help validate the journey our future astronauts will undertake and ensure we deliver the unique customer experience people expect from Virgin," the billionaire added.

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The announcement from Virgin came the same day that Bezos, 57, announced that Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pioneering female pilot, will be joining him and his brother Mark on their own space mission.

The yet-to-be-named winner of an online auction will also join the trio. Roughly 7,600 people from 159 countries registered to bid on the forthcoming trip, Blue Origin — the aerospace manufacturing and spaceflight company founded by the Amazon billionaire in 2000 — previously said.

RELATED VIDEO: Little Girl Who Dreams of Being Astronaut Celebrates SpaceX Launch

On Good Morning America Friday, Branson spoke about Bezos and how he doesn't see their plans to leave earth behind as a competition, as his have been years in the making.

"I know that it's been painted as a race, honestly I don't think either of us see it that way," Branson told the outlet. "We're both doing something pretty different — the people that go up with us are going up in a spaceship — they launch from a beautiful space port in New Mexico and then Jeff has a different approach."

"So we're not really in direct competition," he continued. "I have enormous respect for what he's doing and I know he has enormous respect for what our wonderful team are doing as well."

"We've spent 17 years trying to get to this stage. The first time I got truly excited was yesterday when the final safety check came through and I was asked whether I'd like to go and, of course, the answer was 'yes,'" Branson added during his GMA appearance. "I'm just expecting the most extraordinary trip of my lifetime and, by pioneering it myself, an extraordinary trip of a lifetime for other people in the future and obviously for the other five people who are going to be on board the spaceship with me — we're all now hitting the ceiling."

Come the day of the flight, Virgin Galactic said the test flight will be live-streamed on the company's website and across their various social media channels beginning at 9 a.m. ET.