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

Jan Cross
October 11, 2018

Almost 50 years after dropping out of high school at age 15 and founding his first business, Sir Richard Branson is now the billionaire chair of the Virgin Group, which brings in more than $21 billion annually in global revenue. Then, in 2016, the VSS Unity, which replaced the VSS Enterprise, completed its first glide test with flying colors and completed a few more powered flight tests in April and May.

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. "Then we will be in space with myself in months and not years".

CEO George Whitesides told the Albuquerque Journal this August that while the company no longer gives a timeline for when commercial operations might begin, he said its long-anticipated move to New Mexico was drawing near.

Branson, of course, is not alone in his mission: The British entrepreneur is in a closely-fought race with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who will reportedly charge $200,000 to $300,000 for a seat on one of its Blue Origin rockets.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme, Sir Richard said he was receiving astronaut, centrifuge and fitness training. The company plans to provide orbital human spaceflights as well.

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Passengers will float in zero-gravity for several minutes, before coming back to Earth.

Blue Origin said in June that it will start selling passenger tickets for trips into space as early as next year.

To reach the Karman line, a spaceship has to cruise at an altitude of 100 kilometers above sea level. Right now the price of a Virgin Galactic ticket is nearly $250,000-and it won't be dropping anytime soon.

With a new space race heating up, two business titans could be set for a war of words of galactic proportions as Sir Richard Branson has offered some unsolicited advice to his rival Elon Musk.

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.

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