Virgin to be in space 'within weeks'

Olive Hawkins
October 10, 2018

A few months after another successful test flight over the Mojave Desert, billionaire Richard Branson says his space company, Virgin Galactic, might be out among the stars in a matter of weeks.

Speaking to CNBC, Mr Branson said Virgin Galactic is "more than tantalisingly close" to its first trip to space.

"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".

Since then, Virgin Galactic has had several successful test flights, with its space planes safely reaching Mach 2, which is about twice the speed of sound. And that'll be a legitimate offsettable business expense for professional Instagrammers, so there ought to be loads of them up flying about up there, pouting in front of small, black windows.

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.

Space tourism has turned into a hot commodity in recent years.

'You know, it's important he's got to find time for himself, ' the 68-year-old said.

He said Virgin would be taking people into space "not too long after" that.

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

Virgin Galactic, which is charging $250,000 (£190,000) for a spot on one of its commercial flights, has previously said it would send passengers to space in 2019.

Eventually, the company wants to fly space tourists to an altitude of 360,890 feet (110,000 metres) going beyond the 328,000 feet (100,000 metres) defined boundary of space.

Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has said it aims for test flights by the end of 2018.

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. Right now the price of a Virgin Galactic ticket is nearly $250,000-and it won't be dropping anytime soon.

Virgin Galactic was founded by Branson in 2004.

But so far - despite many promises to launch - the company is still in the testing phase.

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