Branson: Virgin Galactic To Put People In Space in 'Weeks, Not Months'

Branson: Virgin Galactic To Put People In Space in 'Weeks, Not Months'

Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has said that Virgin Galactic is "weeks" away from its first trip into space.

Virgin Galactic's disaster-struck space tourism programme is apparently nearing final launch readiness, with Branson telling USA news site CNBC that: "We should be in space within weeks, not months".

"It would be embarrassing if someone went back over the last thirteen years and wrote down all my quotes about when I thought we would be in space".

The current asking price for a short trip to the lower edges of space costs around £200,000 to book through Virgin Galactic, although Branson says that once his fleet is fully running that could fall to around £40,000 within a decade or so.

Branson has previously said he thinks Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin would both "have a person in space roundabout the same time". The company is developing commercial spacecraft and aims to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists and suborbital launches for space science missions.

Space tourism has turned into a hot commodity in recent years. The 42-second burn blasted it to 171,000 feet, almost five times the cruising altitude of a transatlantic passenger plane. Branson hopes to have a space craft that can carry six passengers and two pilots above Earth.

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Branson said the proposed $250,000 price tag of a Virgin Galactic ticket would allow those who dreamed of visiting space to lift off in larger numbers.

He also insisted there was huge demand for commercial space flights. Asked in the interview whether he was confident enough people would pay for tickets, he told CNBC: "If I have a room full of 10 people, eight out of 10 would love to go to space if they could afford it". The rocket motor is covered by a cowl at the rear of the aircraft body.

The 68-year-old chief executive of Virgin, along with Amazon's Jeffrey P. Bezos and Tesla's Elon Musk, is determined to bring tourists to space, sooner rather than later.

According to the businessman, "The market for people who would love to become astronauts and go to space is huge. And it is up to us to produce as many spaceships as we can to cater to that demand", he added.

Virgin Galactic will get people into space using slightly different means than the likes of NASA and SpaceX. Branson told the New Yorker earlier this year, but he says: "If you are an optimist and you talk ahead of yourself, then everybody around you has got to catch up and try to get there".

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