Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Richard Branson Is Just 'Weeks' Away From Sending Virgin Galactic Into Space

Richard Branson says Virgin Galactic will be in space 'within weeks not months ADRIAN DENNIS AFP
Theresa Hayes | 11 October, 2018, 14:53

Virgin Galactic will reach space "in weeks, not months", founder Richard Branson has said.

"There are almost four and a half billion people who are not connected, so we're hoping that will go well", Branson said.

Virgin Galactic is "more than tantalizingly close" to leaving Earth's atmosphere, according to Richard Branson. In 2014, an early version of a Virgin Galactic spacecraft pulled apart and crashed during a test flight over the Mojave Desert, killing a co-pilot, Michael Alsbury.

"It begins with a few wealthy people (who can afford to buy a plane ticket), and then over the years, the price comes down". Its main focus is on private touristic space travel from a spaceport in New Mexico, but it is also laying the bureaucratic groundwork to launch both research and private missions from Italy.

Virgin Galactic's disaster-struck space tourism programme is apparently nearing final launch readiness, with Branson telling U.S. news site CNBC that: "We should be in space within weeks, not months". "It is up to us to produce as many spaceships as we can to cater with that demand".

Blue Origin flew its New Shepherd spacepod, which launches aboard a traditional rocket capsule, to an altitude of 351,000 feet (107,000 metres) during a test flight near Van Horn, Texas, on April 29.

Virgin Galactic has announced that its spacecraft will lift the space tourists to 68 miles (109 km) above the Earth's surface at a price of $ 250,000 per ticket.

Since the beginning of the year, it's been hard to ignore the major successes that have been seen from Elon Musk's 'SpaceX' program.

Like all shrewd businessmen, Mr Branson welcomes the competition, but he maintains that Virgin Galactic will beat the others to the punch.

Three companies are leading the charge in commercial space travel as they race to get tourists beyond orbit.

Branson even dished out some health advice for fellow billionaire Elon Musk, who runs SpaceX and has been in a firestorm of controversy over the last six months.

At this point, it really is hard to say who is going to achieve the landmark first.

Virgin Active operates five clubs in Singapore, with a sixth due to open in Paya Lebar soon. The company plans to provide orbital human spaceflights as well.

"No, I don't think I can fully retire".

"I think the market for people who would love to become astronauts and go to space is big. Life is short, and I want to make sure I don't waste a minute of it".