Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Virgin to be in space 'within weeks'

Virgin to be in space 'within weeks'

Branson's estimation puts the Virgin Galactic project not far behind its initial deadline.

But he said they "are not in a race to get to space".

Sir Richard is in a race with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to send the first fee-paying passengers into space.

Virgin Galactic's first paying customers will see a hefty ticket price, however.

'He's got to find time for himself, he's got to find time for his health and for his family. And you know he's a wonderfully creative person. "He should find a fantastic team of people around him".

Sir Richard said that learning the art of delegation might address Musk's "one flaw" - his controversial Twitter rants.

Unlike Branson, however, Musk is a controversial figure, particularly because of his increasingly erratic behavior and tweets - ranging from accusations of pedophilia against a British cave diver, to stating that he was going to take Tesla private, much to the shock of shareholders.

While Sir Richard says that he will have humans in space next year, Mr Musk has set a target of 2030 to get people to Mars, with the first people there being tasked with beginning to build a new civilisation. On Tuesday, Branson said that they will begin testing for space flights in a few weeks.

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"We are more than tantalizingly close now, so we should be in space within weeks, not months", he told CNBC.

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

The company first promised to fly tourists into space by the start of 2009, but multiple delays and a fatal test flight crash in 2014 have pushed its first spaceflight back numerous times.

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.

Musk has reached dizzying heights with his numerous private space deliveries to the International Space Station at an altitude of around 1.4 million feet (408,000 metres), but is yet to fly any of his planned passenger-carrying craft.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' spaceflight company Blue Origin is expected to launch a mission into space by 2019.

At the time Branson added that he hoped to become an astronaut within a year with Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic now has about 800 passengers on its roster, all of whom have paid around $250,000 (£190,000) for a return trip to space.

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