Sir Richard Branson has claimed that he will be taking his first trip to space in “months” with his Virgin Galactic rocket. “We should be in space within weeks, not months. And then we will be in space with myself in months and not years.”
Branson and Virgin are in a ‘space race’ with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to send the first fee-paying passengers into space. The Virgin owner has also claimed that 80% of people would travel to space, and has explained that they want to fulfill the demand.
“If I have a room full of 10 people, eight out of 10 would love to go to space if they could afford it. It is up to us to produce as many spaceships as we can to cater with that demand.”
Virgin Galactic was founded in 2004, and initially promised sub-orbital flights for tourists within five years. However a series of delays and a fatal crash in 2014 meant that Branson’s hopes were dashed.
However, earlier this year, Virgin completed its first supersonic flight since that crash under test conditions. The flight was completed in the aptly named SpaceShipTwo, which is a passenger rocket ship.
Virgin’s announcement comes as SpaceX by Musk unveiled the plan it plans to use to fly passengers around the moon in 2023. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also said that his space travel company ‘Blue Origin’ will launch a manned mission to space in 2019, but didn’t specify if it was a passenger flight, or crew only.
Blue Origin have also announced that it is launching a non-profit group with Airbus, the European Space Agency, Agencia Espacial Mexicana, and French construction company Vinci Construction to explore ways to colonise the moon.