Billionaire Richard Branson, who is the founder of Virgin Galactic, which is part of the Virgin Group, told an audience at the Nordic Business Forum in Helsinki, Finland, that he is hopeful it will only be a few months until the company reaches its goal of spaceflight.
Business Insider reported that Branson says his private space program may be mere months away from making its first spaceflight. “We are hopefully about three months before we are in space, maybe six months before I’m in space,” Branson told the audience last week.
Branson’s Virgin Galactic plans to sell seats aboard the tourist flights to space for around $250,000 a ticket. Branson told The Telegraph back in April that Virgin Galactic would start taking passengers to space by the end of 2018.
The company is one of the several privately owned companies racing to commercialize spaceflight. During the forum, Branson also noted that his space goals aren’t quite as lofty as those of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. When asked by an audience member whether he planned to join Musk’s race to Mars, Branson said the red planet isn’t his top priority, according to Business Insider.
“[Getting to Mars] is an incredible challenge, and I suspect Elon [Musk] will get there first. He’s more interested in big rockets going big distances. We’ve been more interested in taking people to space, and satellites, slightly closer to Earth,” Branson said. And Branson’s goals don’t stop at tourists sightseeing.
He wants to use his technology for point to point travel in the future as well. “To get to space we’re going to be flying a craft that’s going 3000 miles per hour. We are going to be the only people in the world, in a few months, to be flying a craft that’s going 3000 [mph]. Taking that craft and looking at point to point travel is something we are going to be in the best position in the world to do.”
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