“We should be in space within weeks, not months. And then we will be in space with myself in months and not years,” the firm’s founder and chief executive told news website CNBC. He said the company will be taking customers into space “not too long after” that.
Sir Richard Branson is currently in a race with Elon Musk (although at time of writing, it may be whoever is running Tesla) and notorious billionaire Jeff Bezos to send the first fee-paying passengers into space.
Branson founded the commercial spaceflight company in 2004, and first promised sub-orbital space flight adventures for amateur astronauts by the start of 2009. However, numerous roadblocks and a horrific crash in 2014 slowed down Sir Branson’s ambitious plans.
Earlier in 2018, Virgin Galactic completed the first supersonic test flight of its SpaceShipTwo ship, since the crash 4 years ago. Branson, himself, a 67-year-old multi-millionaire was initially expected to take his first trip to space flight in the first half of this year. During an on-air interview with BBC Radio 4’s “You and Yours,” Sir Richard said he was undergoing astronaut training, centrifugal training, and fitness training. In the same interview, he was also adamant that there was a huge demand for affordable, commercial space flights
“If I have a room full of 10 people, eight out of 10 would love to go to space if they could afford it,” Sir Richard told CNBC. “It is up to us to produce as many spaceships as we can to cater with that demand.”
Sir Richard Branson’s announcement comes just after rival SpaceX unveiled the first private passenger it plans to fly around the Moon. The mission is penned in for 2023, and would mark the first lunar journey by humans since 1972!
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has noted that his space travel firm Blue Origin will send a manned mission to space by 2019; Although Bezos didn’t clarify if he meant crew or fare-paying passengers.
Speaking of Bezos; earlier this month, Blue Origin announced that it is starting a non-profit group with Airbus, Agencia Espacial Mexicana, and the French construction company Vinci Construction to research and discover ways to colonize the moon.