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tv   Alex Witt Reports  MSNBC  July 11, 2021 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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a special thing for me to hand over to my great friend and colleague, alex witt. we are rarely in the same place. great to see you. >> what you just did here. any flight envy? do you wish -- >> oh, yeah. >> you have to think for richard branson the fact they overcame what happened, the disaster in 2014, there has to be a sense of relief and joy. >> all of the feelings. >> i wish we could have heard what he was saying clearly. i was just looking at him thinking my goodness. he has to be screaming and shouting up there and cheering. it was exciting. you did a wonderful job. thank you for carrying us through this morning. >> we'll talk soon. >> i look forward to it. for all of you here we go.
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i'm going to officially now wish you all a good day from msnbc world headquarters here in new york. we're a bit high noon here in the east. welcome, everyone, to "alex witt reports." it's a special one. you saw it live on msnbc, one small step for man and a giant leap for a billionaire taking on space as the next frontier. sir richard branson making history successfully launching himself into space on his space plane. >> five, three, two, one. release. release. >> amazing, right? it's incredible. it was historic. this launch this morning. the first fully crewed test flight to the edge of space. >> and that is a full burn. we are headed to space. and the passengers in the back have been cleared to unstrap.
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279,000 feet and climbing. >> branson's trip to the edge slightly edged out jeff basos. >> it's an experience of a lifetime. now i look down and congratulations to everybody. >> and there we heard it. what he was thinking and as we're looking at video of that plane landing extraordinary. i want to ask someone about the shape of that front wheel. look at that. it's so unique. i'll ask someone who will know the answer of why it is shaped that way better than i will. we'll continue our coverage and expected to hear from richard branson in the next hour as we give you a live look at that
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plane rolling back to the place from which it took off. they will be exited. we have two pilots. richard branson and the other three. now technically astronauts who will be joining him. all of them employees of virgin galactic. it's an exciting time. we'll watch them disembark from the plane and they'll take to a podium and answering a whole bunch of questions. we'll bring it to you here live here on msnbc because we have a team of reporters and analysts to sort through the significance of today's historic flight. we're getting going. look up, tom costello. he's getting information as we go. first to calipe perry who is inw mexico. what are you hearing about today's mission? did everything go according to plan. it looked like it did begging that delay due to weather at the very beginning. >> so that 90-minute delay at the beginning this morning was really the only thing that didn't go as planned.
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tom costello reporting early in the morning inside the bubble he'll join us because of high winds bringing out that carrier plane. that plane, eve, named after richard branson's late mother. you'll get to engineers and astronauts. let me give you perspective of reporters in the desert. plane went to 50,000 feet. then it dropped beneath that and burned that fuel for one minute. a heavy burn. it went straight vertical for a full minute up to 55 miles above sea level. it is a suborbital flight. amazing technology. it rotated basically backwards. it put its engines down the back part of the plane. i'm giving this to you in layman's terms intentionally. basically on what is a dead stick glider, it returned down to earth 60 minutes from takeoff until touchdown. i'll let tom correct me if that math is wrong. absolutely amazing especially when you look at this as we
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should from a business perspective. this was a massive publicity stunt. they want to make this a passenger experience that will become, they say, according to sir richard branson available to everybody as it becomes cheaper. of course the richest man in the world is going to try to do this nine days from now. he'll take a rocket booster up. again, this competition amongst these billionaires seen as healthy, seen as away to open up space travel. today was a huge day along that road. >> 100%. so exciting to watch all of it. i'm sure to be there in person watching that unity 22 come back down to earth. so there's a lot of questions to get to. there's going to be questions about a lot of stuff going on in flight. it was generally focused on the experience. that which he wants for
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passengers who will pay a boat load of money to get up there. we heard cal reporting they are trying to bring the cost of this down. we had four minutes of weightlessness and there was some experiments that were being done there. also experiments being done as to the panels, the instruments, those kinds of things and how they reacted to weightlessness. they want to get all this documented and continue to enhance and particularly from a safety standpoint make sure that these flights are absolutely safe. we have a lot of people to talk to us about this. a retired astronaut and a reporter from "the new yorker." welcome to you all. pretty exciting day. we'll go with you first. so this space launch was the first of its kind this morning,
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right? give me a sense of how ground breaking this trip was for richard branson to make into space. put it in perspective. >> it's really ground breaking in that when you look at the history of the space race, it's been pretty much nasa for the past 50 years. you have the new players come in with spacex and so forth. this is a new model. he doesn't use the typical rocket launch we've used in the past. it's ground breaking. probably from a personal perspective, he has to be very happy because not only was it wildly successful flight for him, he has that off the ground and now he's going to be a commercial astronaut. he's probably happier than anybody on earth right now. >> i understand there's a ceremony coming up where he'll get astronaut wings. we have tom costello who is our space race pro here at nbc news.
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you've been covering this since its inception. you had that exclusive interview with him and all that he was looking forward to. get inside of his mind. what do you think he is feeling right now now that this successful launch and landing has taken place. >> pardon me for turning my head to you but elation is the answer. moments ago -- in fact, he's still on the screen. i'm going to ask my photographer, unfortunately we don't have a live feed but it's on the big screen here. you can see he is hugging his grandchildren. he hugged his son. can you get a sense of that? i wish we had a clean feed but we don't. we're cheating a little bit trying to get it on the big megascreen here. an incredible moment. he just stepped out of the plane and was hugged by family and co-workers and friends.
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this is -- richard branson has had a lot of fantastic triumphs in his life. he's cheated dead many times. this clearly, he would say, the absolute best moment in terms of accomplishments. walking now into the spaceport here about 30 miles, 40 miles or so in the desert outside of truth or consequences, new mexico. a space i will tell you is a pretty desolate place. even folks in new mexico would say it's desolate out there. it really is in the middle of nowhere. this is where they built this spaceport and where they bet the state of new mexico has built a quarter of a billion dollar facility and now with this flight today, they have proven that commercial passenger space flight is possible and it very well may be the future. that clearly is what richard branson and company are hoping for. so really just a triumphant moment here. he told me -- i asked him last
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week. i said are you nervous? he said, no, not at all. i've been waiting for this moment for 17 years. believed in his test pilots. he experienced -- they experienced real tragedy when they lost a test pilot in a horrific accident. they overcame that. they powered through. they drilled down on engineering. they brought in the best engineering minds and look what they pulled off today? not only a beautiful plan, it was perfect execution. it could not have gone better in the deserts of new mexico. >> a couple of questions for you. so that place, the spaceport which you are standing right next to there in the background, that's the place that anybody who pays a quarter million dollars or hopefully a less amount as this become more populated and more common, they will have to fly to new mexico, drive to new mexico, get yourself there and then they travel these 40 or so miles and
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that's the place from which all flights will be launching? that's it? >> that's the plan. let me ask my cameraman, can you come out a little bit wider to show how the spaceport is and you'll forgive our cameraman, one of the best in the business but he's fighting the sun right now. this is a massive facility that they built. it looks like an airport terminal in the middle of the desert. i had a tour inside this week when i was in there with richard branson. yes, everybody who writes that check for 250 grand, maybe they take a debit card, i don't know but anybody who writes that check will come here. now, listen, you have to fly in -- if you are a regular person like me or you, you'll fly into el paso, texas, probably, and then make the drive up here straight up i-25. everybody else will have their
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own private plane. you can imagine justin bieber and tom hanks and lady gaga and a woman with a thick foreign accent and she could probably afford a private plane ride to get in here. richard branson has his own plane. they fly in here. now ultimately i had a conversation with somebody who is in the virgin galactic hierarchy last night. ultimately they think they have to have hotels, maybe in truth or consequences but that's really remote. so how do you get somebody who is going to pay that kind of money and who is going to come in and we're staying in the nicest hotel is a beautiful courtyard marriott. if you're used to the ritz, what are you going to do? they may think they have to build something like that if this takes off and then they have to chopper people in. again, you're talking about the world's wealthiest people right
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now. chopper them in from albuquerque. they've got a big two-mile runway here. it's beautiful. and that might be the ultimate plan. they are actually talking about the billionaires combining this vacation with maybe i'll go skiing over the weekend and maybe i'll fly there as well. >> i tell you, such issues to have to deal with. let me ask you, tom, you know, watching this we watched start to finish unity 22 get boarded by everybody, get up to space, turn around and come back. it was short. so i'm thinking this hotel plan if you have your own private jet and fly in in the morning, head up to space and get on home for dinner it would seem unless the plans are for longer flights. do you know what that's about if they've made plans on how long the duration will be? >> can i just tell you by the way i'm watching the mothership come in for a landing.
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you can see how long that took . they don't have hotel rooms in the spaceport behind me. they don't have enough water out here in the middle of nowhere. they can't have too many people flushing toilets. that would be the plan ultimately. i was distracted by the chase plane. you asked me a question. i forgot it. >> do they have a plan to make the actual period in space longer than the four minutes where they spent today? might this be an hour long or what's the idea? >> sorry about that. so, listen, they probably are going to require people to come in a day or two in advance because you have to go through your astronaut briefing. that may be a couple of day process. somebody comes in, this is not just show up, get a flight and go home. this is a whole experience. it's a first-class experience from top to bottom. can i also tell you we are waiting right now for richard
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branson and his fellow crew members to do a news conference and that could come any time. i mean, we're a little bit playing it by the seat of our pants because the time line slipped this morning when they delayed the liftoff by 90 minutes or so. we're waiting for that branson news conference. right now they're inside celebrating. probably having a glass of champagne. it's a cool 75 degrees headed to 95. it's really a spectacular vision. i don't know if you can see this, but the mothership is right now taxiing up to the spaceport. do you guys have a cut away camera of that? i don't think my photographer can get it. >> we don't. >> it's a spectacular image. >> that's the eve ship? >> that's right.
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j.b., can you shoot that? >> we just got it, tom. we're good. >> look at that. perfect. >> what an interesting ship. >> it's a beautiful shot. it's a double fuselage aircraft and as you know, we've been saying it all morning, unity hangs beneath that center wing and is released. a beautiful airplane. it's unique to virgin galactic. this is their entire model they came up with. >> tom, i don't mean to throw cold water on the accomplishments of this trip, when you think back to 2014 and the description of what went wrong was essentially that it broke apart, right? so do you know any details about what happened there? as i'm looking at this plane with definitely strong wings binding these two fuselages together, i'm just kind of wondering where it came apart? do you have any details on that?
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>> yeah, i do. now, keep in mind in 2014 we're talking about the unity -- a different spaceship but it was the spaceship not the mothership. this was test pilot error. and somebody deployed those wings too early. we talked about how this is a feathered wing system that got executed at the right moment on re-entry. if you do it too early, it can have tragic consequences. one of the test pilots died and he left behind a family. it's heartbreaking. still to this day they all talk about how that was such a gut punch to everybody in this program and how they were determined to overcome it. so they did. they came back. i talked to the chief pilot and he said we have made great engineering changes and they took safety stand downs to ensure that this was a safe
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unity spaceship coming back. you're right. just because of this unique engineering feature of the spaceship, that, i think, is probably one of those features that you watch closely. i don't want to say it's a vulnerability but you watch closely because it's unique and a pilot error many years ago led to somebody's death. >> and severe injury of the other test pilot. certainly survived. tom, if you want to catch a little bit of a break, put on a hat to get out of the glaing sun, that's cool. we have joan with us and others. i want to go back quickly to you, joan, and ask you the first thought when i saw unity 22 landing what a bizarre front wheel. it doesn't look like a normal airplane wheel. do you have any insight as to why it's shaped that way. i don't know if he'll be able to
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show in landing if my director can requeue something up there. it comes in at an angle and a flat bottom. it's bizarre. do you want to take a guess at that, joan? >> i'm not really sure about the actual nature of that landing gear there. it may have to do with something as they attach the spacecraft underneath it. but i'm not really sure why that's actually in the configuration that it is. >> thank you, steve. it's at an angle and down. it's an educated guess. you may have hit the nail on the head with regard to that. nicholas, let me ask you a couple questions now. you know richard branson as well as anyone. tom costello does as well. you followed him for so long. what's the impetus for him to do this? was it simply because it's there. it's because somebody like myself who wants to climb
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mountains and get to the top of them because it's there. what was behind that for him? >> i mean, look he is had a fascination with space long before he had the money to be able to fund a fascination to space. in 2004, there was this project that richard branson was financially supporting that was developed by the company that later would build the spaceship you saw today or designed the spaceship you saw today. flew to space three times. richard branson said i want you to build one of those for me bigger. this is really the thing to take away. his wealth is a master marketer. he's an expert showman. he's thrown into the world of building spaceships. so today as i spent four years embedded in this company for a
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magazine piece. it's important to remember all the time i'm there inside the company, it's unclear whether the narrative is against all -- triumph against all odds or a cautionary tale. richard branson making it to space it was against all odds situation. hats off to them. you're asking about that plate in the front. it's a skid plate. it's made out of wood. it has nothing to do with the way the ship attaches to the mothership but it's just there. it's light weight and there to stop and stabilize the ship when it lands. >> did you say wood? it's made out of wood? >> there's a piece of wood on the bottom. >> okay. it works. >> that's also another thing to keep in mind comparing these other programs. this is a very analog ship. as we see with the cockpit, it's flown by pilots. there's very little automation inside of the ship.
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it's an old school -- even though its mission is futuristic, it's retro and old school in the way this mission is conducted and the way the vehicle works. that is in some ways what made it so engrossing and a contagious project for me for so long which is all of this human element. it's guys with scars flapping in the wind above the edge of space. extraordinarily interesting program for sure and a huge day for them. >> 100%. you're an extraordinary writer for space.com. i was reading your coverage of this. spot on. fabulous. you answered every question of mine. let me throw a question at you. with regard to this race between these billionaires and that's what it seems like with jeff bezos launching in just a bit. the line about what you write, that exceeds the height that richard branson achieved today. this was 15 miles above the
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earth. that line by your counting is 62 miles. that's where there's a little bit of back and forth well i've got the better flight than you do perhaps. but talk about the difference between that 12-mile discrepancy and does jeff bezos then have a claim to being the first guy in space because if you read the bottom of our screen, we are saying branson makes it to the edge of space. talk about that. >> thank you for having us here. it is a really exciting day definitely for virgin galactic and for their company and for richard branson. but there is this competition, at least it appears to us, of these duelling billionaires and their two different private space programs and two different vehicles. now, jeff bezos is correct. his vehicle does fly above this widely recognized boundary of space of 62 miles. the space programs and companies and scientists around the world
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have used for many, many years. now, nasa, the faa, and the u.s. military have used that 50-mile marker as a boundary for space because of their test pilots there. this is where this dispute really has come up. nasa awarded belatedly astronaut wings to the rocket planes as they were developing their spaceships and that set the tone for this lower recognized boundary. richard branson has said a few times that he believes that the experience that his passengers are going to feel won't be much different than what other passengers will feel. a few minutes of weightlessness. sweeping views of the earth and space and a unique experience where you have this high-class gateway to space terminal out in the middle of the new mexico desert and you've got a lot of what comes with that. there are different claims.
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richard branson did say that their new vehicle spaceship will fly higher than we saw today. there always have been talk they could build a bigger spacecraft. we'll have to wait and see where that falls in their business line. >> so, again, this was four minutes -- well, the entire duration of the flight was an extraordinary experience for them but there was analysis going on on behalf of the four -- not the pilots. they were focused on their job but the other four onboard to include richard branson. so you broke that down very well in your space.com reporting. let's start with richard branson. he wanted to focus on the experience, right? he's all about how can i enhance this, make people feel good about this, make this really just top of the world flight, if you will. >> that's right. so each member of the crew, the four-person crew in the passenger cabin had a different job. richard is the passenger. the test passenger. i paid, you know, a quarter million dollars for this flight,
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how does that feel? how can virgin galactic make it better? so what is the experience of walking out. how do i feel getting put into my seat? how do i know when it's safe to move about the cabin, if you will, after we launch and what is that experience like. am i getting the value for what i paid for this flight? so he will definitely have a lot to say about what that was like for himself. their chief astronaut trainer is there to see how her plans for shepherd these passengers through the fight worked out. she was the only passenger pilot on that flight. she's testing those flights. >> they're going to bring future passengers to the spaceport a couple days in advance because they have to -- it's not like you can go up into space and come back down and be home for
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dinner even though i was flippantly suggesting that. reality is you have to get trained. it's like anything. i've gone sky diving. you have to be trained into what happens if there's an accident. is that the kind of thing that beth will be overseeing? >> exactly. so beth moses will meet the passengers and describe what they'll experience during the flight and make sure that all of their space wear, under armour flight suits fit perfectly and comfortable. they know how to unbuckle themselves from their seat and what not to touch. when we go on a flight across the country, we know you don't touch that door while the flight is in motion. they'll learn all of those safety features as well. and then they'll be asked how that experience was. i expect there will be surveys for future flights and future passengers. >> real quick, collin bennett, lead operations engineer, is
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going to look at the equipment and making sure that everything went off smoothly and developing it and enhancing it for future flights as well? >> right. collin's job is the engineer of the flight. are the seats performing as we expect them to? are there any hitches with any of the equipment that not just passengers have to deal with, seat belts, window access, but also the systems that would power experiments. virgin galactic wants to fly experiments for scientists. nasa in an experiment with the university of florida on this site. and a job was to perform the experiment and what was that like for scientists? is the procedures they've developed enough time for these scientists to be able to do their job or is the instruction enough. >> quick break here for a second. we have to go to tom costello. he's waving. tom, what do you have? >> i just wanted to weigh in.
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i hope you don't mind. pardon me for sunglasses but it's almost 100 degrees here in new mexico. but weighing in on the experience, branson told me as i mentioned at a previous live shot he wants this to be a first-class experience all along. he was literally taking notes inside the spaceship. the tiniest things he could tweak so making each seat a different color so that you would come onboard and say i'm yellow and bob next to me is blue and so and so is red. why does that matter? when you float weightless and you get back into your seat, you want to get into the right seat. making the seats more comfortable. everything from where are your arms positioned. do we need to tweak arm rests? all of that is part of it. if you have ever been on a virgin atlantic flight going
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from u.s. to uk and back, they pride themselves in those details. when i was based in london many years ago, you would go through their lounge in london and they had a putting green. just things like that that are unusual and speak to attention to detail. that's what they want to do inside the spaceport. it's a first-class experience. they got the barista there making whatever coffee you want. they have a buffet with whole foods type of selections. really from top to bottom they try to make this an exquisite experience. >> i did fly virgin atlantic round trip to london and it was a lovely experience. kudos for him. nicholas, i understand you can't stay with us too much longer. i want to ask you -- he did have to leave unfortunately. just found out. that's okay. got a bunch of experts still with us. joan, let me ask you from your
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perspective as an astronaut, what do you make of them choosing to launch from a plane instead of a typical ground launch? i would love to know your experience and get a sense of what it is like to be in space and when they talked about this plane going vertical for a minute, i mean, the g-force alone, that's got to be extraordinary. >> it is. and that was our entire flight. we launched vertically. as soon as we went off the launch pad, it was like a swift kick in the pants and you could feel the vehicle accelerating. there was a harmonic hum that would go with the vehicle as we got faster and faster. six minutes in we had 3.5 gs. it feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest and breathing is labored. breathing out is an active process. then we hit the bounds of space
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and everything just kind of -- you felt yourself lighten up and get off your seat a little bit and we unstrapped and we were up there. i can imagine that one minute of vertical flight for them was pretty darn intense. they probably experienced the same amount of force that we did. i'm sure that was probably a little bit of a shock to their systems. >> i can imagine. i've always dreamed about experiencing that but do not have training to do so. we'll see if i have the money to do it one day. not guaranteed. joan, i'll ask you to stick around and all of you but thank you for this extraordinary coverage this first half hour into our show of what just transpired in the skies above this planet but really coming down into the landing there in new mexico to the spaceport owned and developed by richard branson. we're going to take a really short break. we'll come back at the top of the hour and let you know what
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richard branson says and all of the others that were onboard the unity 22 with him. we'll have a news conference and take that live. in the meantime we'll take a short break and come back with political news to include the chair of the special committee, the select committee to look into the january 6th attack. i'll have congressman benny thompson after a short break. stay with us here on msnbc. one that's been paved and one that's forever wild. but freedom means you don't have to choose just one adventure. you get both. introducing the wildly civilized all-new 3-row jeep grand cherokee l my dvt blood clot left me with questions... was another around the corner? or could i have a different game plan? i wanted to help protect myself. my doctor recommended eliquis. eliquis is proven to treat and help prevent
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the whole thing was just magical. suddenly you look down and you see three people looking up at you. what are you doing down there? we have this incredible -- anyway, i'm just taking it all in. it's just unreal. i was so honored to test the customer experience. initially i thought testing the customer experience was a little bit of an excuse to get me on. there wasn't. it's so great to just get out there, test customer experience. you get lists and lists of little things and details that matter. so we'll have new details to sort out. this remarkable crew of mission specialists and now astronauts. [ applause ] >> they are a complete delight
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to have flown with. we've had such a great time. an enormous thank you to our incredible spaceship pilots. and to our mother ship pilots. i think they must -- i don't know where they are. if they're here, they should join us on stage. just to say -- ssorry. anyway, thanks to all of you for being here at spaceport, america. it's hot. i'm sorry. but thank you for standing out here. the spaceport is the most stunning building when you come in the morning and see this thing emerging from the desert. i think it could be one of the ten wonders of the world. so awesome to arrive on a
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bicycle and across this beautiful new mexico countryside and thank you to new mexico for hosting us for building this and for everything. thank you for performing, khalid. where is his lovely wife? come on there. right. he's had quite a month. this beautiful new baby will be born this month and this beautiful baby was born a couple years ago. and thank you for letting him come with us.
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i would like to thank my wonderful, beautiful wife, joan, who is hopefully here somewhere. we've been lucky enough to be together -- there she is -- for 45 wonderful years and we've been very, very blessed and we've got holly and sam here, our grandchildren, and lots of friends. sadly, none from england. we'll get you out here one day. love you lots, all of you. and i know i said it from the space ship. but i want to say thank you to every person that believed in virgin galactic and the team that worked so hard to make this dream come true. love you all. it's 17 years of painstaking work. and the occasional horrible down
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but by in large ups with it and today was definitely the biggest up. thank you all of you. love you all. [ applause ] and so the mission statement that i wrote inside my space suit was to turn the dream of space travel into a reality for my grandchildren who are here, for your grandchildren, and for many people who are alive today for everybody and having flown to space, i can see evenactic i the space line for earth. we're here to make space more assessable to all and we want to turn the next generation of dreamers into the astronauts of today and tomorrow. we've all on this stage have just had the most extraordinary experience and we would love it if a number of you can have it
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too. with that in mind, i have some news. so today virgin galactic is thrilled to announce that we partnered with amaze to open space for everyone. so if you go to amaze.com, i think slash space to enter, you have a chance to go to space. and every donation supports a charitable space for humanity and you'll be entered into the amaze sweepstakes for a chance to win not one, but two seats amid the first commercial space flight. [ applause ] with my willie wonka hat on a guided tour of spaceport america given by yours truly and i promise lots of chocolate in the factory. the exciting thing about this is if enough people all over the
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world participate, it just means we can keep on -- the charity can keep on doing tickets for people. it's a lovely self-propelling way of just trying to get lots of people who couldn't otherwise afford it to go to space. just imagine a world where people of all ages, all backgrounds, from anywhere of any gender of any ethnicity have equal access to space and they will in turn inspire us back here on earth. if you ever had a dream, now is the time to make it come true. and i would just like to end by saying welcome to the dawn of a new space age. thank you. [ applause ] >> it has been a tremendous day here in new mexico.
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a beautiful, sunny day. it's the time of year where from the sycamores and maples the keys who work so hard to grow vertically -- >> these four are about to get their astronaut wings because technically they got into space today so that has to be an absolutely extraordinary thing. we see the description of what they will be getting. that piece of hardware is an impression of virgin galactic spaceship which is cool. that must be different than wings which, joan, you have received because you've been an astronaut. you've been up in space. so you must have your own pair of those. tell me what that's like. for those of you just joining us, we have a veteran astronaut with us and we also have from space.com doing a wonderful job following the events of today.
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when you get your wings, that's cool. there are not many people that have those. what does that feel like? >> you know, cool doesn't even begin to describe it. it was such an honor. you come back from a space flight that's most wonderful opportunity that not a lot of people get to experience and there's a big celebration for you. and then you get your wings. that's pretty cool. it was really special for a rookie because it was my first flight. so you're a rookie that once they pin those wings on me, you can't call me a rookie anymore. that was fantastic. i hated that word rookie. a fantastic feeling to get my wings. >> absolutely. it made you 100% legit. what do you remember from that first flight? what do you take with you? i've spoken with astronauts before. i ask them and it's everything from the experience, a memory, a fear, excitement, to even a
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spiritual infusion of something because you get a look at this planet that, as you said, very few people ever will get to see in their lifetime. >> right. and it's what they call the overview effect is the term they've given it. that time in space where you look down at earth for the first time and see the atmosphere, which we thought was a millimeter thick which is not the case and then you think how much we need to be kind to the earth and treat her kindly because this is the only place that we currently have to live. and then the other thing that really resonated with me was the fact that we had such a diverse crew for my particular flight and it's the fact that all of us can get along and why can't we
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be fellow and gentler to your fellow human. >> let's take a listen. there's a lot of cheering going on. champagne being sprayed around. there you go. going to be a little bit of consumption for good measure. not surprisingly richard branson one of the ultimate showman. he knows how to market himself and product and announced this pretty extraordinary merger with amaze.com where he announced that people will be able to go to amaze.com and check it out and register. i don't know what particulars will be since he just made the announcement for what you have to contribute when you log in and create an account to be considered and enter a sweepstake for not one, but two
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seats onboard one of the first commercial flights, which will be pretty extraordinary. richard branson has this title. the first man to enter suborbital space there with his company. accompanied by those whether on his shoulders or exiting the platform with him. what we know right now the plans which seem to be somewhat sticking to time, they're going to go back inside of the spaceport. they're going to get ready for a press conference and then once they get to that press conference, our tom costello and others will be there able to ask specific technical questions, not the least of which will be the type of things that you would like to do. there's lots of jubilation and celebration and so they're going to go inside, probably get cleaned up, maybe get out of
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those under armour astronaut suits. should be at the top of the hour. we'll take you to that. other things to take a look at right now and that includes the top stories. at the white house, president biden is gearing up for a week focused on voting rights. the battles over election laws are growing state by state. we'll have more on that in a moment. first, with the withdraw of afghanistan about 90% complete today, growing concern about the taliban filling the void left by the united states and new reaction from the pentagon press secretary to that. >> we're watching with deep concern. we're watching it and monitoring it which is why we're working with our afghan partners to encourage them to use capacity and capability that we know they have and we know that they know how to defend our country. this is a time for them to step up and do exactly that. >> on capitol hill, new concerns from democrats and even some
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republicans on who kevin mccarthy is going to choose to fill those five empty seats investigating the january 6th capitol insurrection. >> to my colleagues in politics, let me say this to you. you either have to be a zombie for the nonbelief system whatever that is today and tomorrow it varies based on donald trump's whims or stand up and tell constituents the truth. >> a look at dallas, texas, where in just a couple hours donald trump will take the stage. >> joining me now is benny thompson, chair of the january 6th house select committee. congressman, glad to have you. a lot of important things to talk about. first, thank you so much. i hope you enjoyed watching everything unfolding with this space flight because it is pretty exciting as is everything that you are tackling. it's so very important, sir. so, you have said right here on
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msnbc that your committee is going to hold its first hearing july 21st or 22nd. first of all, has that been clarified and then what can we expect from that hearing, who do you think is going to appear? >> well, thank you very much, alex, for having me. our intent is to establish from the beginning that the select committee is interested in the security of the capitol, the people who work in the capitol, the rank and file of capitol police people who have not had an opportunity to talk to members of congress or to a committee in congress. but also the support staff, the custodial staff, those individuals that come to work every day trying to make a living to take care of their families who actually put their lives on the line that day trying to protect themselves and who ultimately had to clean the place up after the riot. so we'll make that statement.
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we look forward to it. we populated the committee as you know with eight members. we look forward to the five members that leader mccarthy will send over to the speaker for her approval, and we'll move forward. >> congressman, do you have any concerns about who those five members might be? do you have concerns that there may be republican based agendas? we heard republican speaking earlier this morning saying that if you get on this committee, you cannot be a zombie trying to perpetuate the donald trump falsehoods. you have to pursue the truth. are you concerned about who will be on the committee and whether their intentions will be what you would like them to be? >> well, the good part about this committee is the speaker determines the ultimate membership. if minority leader mccarthy comes with individuals who demonstrated that they are
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living in a false world around january 6th, it's not in anyone's interest for those individuals to serve. so i see speaker pelosi doing her job and making sure that people who love this country and people who did not appreciate what occurred on january 6th will have an opportunity to work this committee and make sure that that situation never happens again. >> so how would that play into -- i'm taking it that you are saying that nancy pelosi could potentially veto somebody who kevin mccarthy might propose. what might that do to your time line? would you proceed on july 21st or 22nd with a paired down group or do you have to wait for everybody to be seated on the select committee?
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>> eight members makes it complete. it will not stop anything. we would love to have a significantly bipartisan committee. we tried to do it at last moment. minority leader mccarthy told his people to vote against it. we didn't get it so now the house has to act. that's what we'll be doing. we'll follow the script. our charge is to look at the circumstances and facts of january 6th and come back to congress with what our findings dictate. >> looking at facts in pursuit of the truth. let me ask you what you said in the past. a subpoena for donald trump is not off the table. in your mind how likely is that to happen and what about calling some of your colleagues in congress to speak before the select committee? >> well, i can tell you that the intent of the committee is to follow the facts. if the facts lead us to some of
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our colleagues were involved in that process, we'll talk to them. if they won't talk to us, we'll subpoena them. if the facts lead us to the executive branch, we won't hesitate. our charge is to investigate any and all facts and circumstances around january 6th. so we won't push back. the eight members of the committee so far have expressed a real interest in documenting what occurred to the extent that we can using all the powers that congress has given us. >> let me just ask you blatantly if you were to subpoena donald trump would you expect him to show up or find an excuse not to do so? >> well if the donald trump of today is like the donald trump of the past, he'll use everything he can to prevent it.
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i'll say if the facts lead us to him and any other individual, we will exercise all the authorities we have as a committee to see that he comes to us in some form or fashion. but i don't want to just focus on him. there are a lot of things that went on that we have to look at. again, members of congress have made a number of inflammatory statements that we think could possibly have encouraged people to come to the capitol. so we'll look at everything. >> absolutely. would that include rioters? would you want to mine into the experience of any accused rioter and try to figure out what prompted them to get there? >> well, one of the things we plan to do is talk to the justice department. if they will say to us that they have people who have been charged who would like to come before the committee, we would
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perfectly welcome that testimony either in public or private as well as any other citizens. we're not turning down access to any information. as you know, we'll hire the best staff possible to get us the information. so our charge is to go wherever the information leads us, and we will do that and one of the commitments of all of the members of the committee want to make very clear is that nothing is off limits as we pursue the facts and circumstances behind january 6th. >> congressman, one last question to you, sir, that may be somewhat related. according to a new report, attendees have been handed out cards outlining a seven-point plan to reinstate donald trump as president in days, not years. these cards were made by a group not affiliating with the cpac
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organizers. as you look at the big lie still spreading, is it necessary for your committee to look at a potential for another violent attack on democracy? >> i think if our circumstances say that these same individuals who perpetrated january 6th are looking at all this or some time in the future, we'll have to do that. let me tell you, there are some dangerous signs out here for our democracy. misinformation is pushed out on a daily basis and just as that information you shared just then, who in their right mind would believe that in the greatest democracy in the world that eight months after a new president is in office someone who lost would take precedent over that. that is -- but that's the misinformation and so many of the people involved in january
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6th bought into the misinformation and that's why we owe it to the american people to get to the facts. >> amen to that, sir. i'm sure with you as chair, congressman thompson, of the january 6th house select committee, you're going to do just that. we're all counting on you. again, thank you for speaking to me. i look forward to speaking with you again and thank you for waiting through what we've seen with richard branson and that space flight. we know you have a busy day so thank you so much. we appreciate it. in just a few minutes, we're expecting a news conference from sir richard branson. they'll talk about the significance of today's historic flight and you're going to watch flight and you're going to watch it here on msnbc.um seal tight. new parodontax active gum repair toothpaste. dr. arnold t petsworth had an influx of new patients. so he used his american express business card,
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