Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Science | By

Virgin to be in space 'within weeks'

Virgin to be in space 'within weeks'

Speaking to CNBC in Singapore, the billionaire Virgin founder said the company was "more than tantalisingly close" to launching its first mission to space, and that he himself hoped to briefly leave Earth within "months not years". "And then we will be in space with myself in months and not years", the firm's founder told CNBC.

When asked whether he had any concerns about consumer demand regarding fare-paying space flights, Branson said: "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 is in a race with Elon Musk's SpaceX and Amazon to send the first fee-paying passengers into space.

The feat would mark a milestone for the company which is in a race against Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX to offer space flights to wealthy would-be astronauts.

Branson has been public about his desire to go to space since 1988 and helped finance legendary air and spacecraft designer Burt Rutan's successful bid to win the first X Prize for private space travel.

Branson has been working out and going through astronaut training and centrifuge training in recent months to prepare for making the journey himself.

When the plane reaches space, the vessel will detach and propel itself higher into space before both return to Earth - albeit at different times.

According to the businessman, "The market for people who would love to become astronauts and go to space is enormous".

Japanese online retail tycoon Yusaku Maezawa has been unveiled as the first person to buy a ticket for Elon Musk's SpaceX mission to the moon.

But Virgin boss Richard Branson has come out with some bullish words on Galactic's progress.

The reusable New Shepard rocket and spacecraft is meant to carry up to six space tourists, researchers and/or experiments on brief suborbital flights, the company has said.

He also insisted there was huge demand for commercial space flights.

When asked about consumer demand for space travel, he told CNBC: "I think the market for people who would love to become astronauts and go to space is big".

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