Richard Branson claims he wants to travel to space within the next four or five months aboard his Virgin Galactic spaceship.
The British entrepreneur says that he hopes to make his first voyage coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969.
He also claims that the spaceflight company are still on target to send tourists into on short ‘suborbital’ flights by the end of next year.
Speaking at an event in Washington, he said: ‘My wish is to go up on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, that’s what we’re working on.’.
The American Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on July 20th, 1969.
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British billionaire Richard Branson, pictured here, plans to travel to space within the next four or five months aboard his own Virgin Galactic spaceship. Virgin Galactic is one of two companies, along with Blue Origin, on its way to sending passengers into space
Earlier this year, the 69-year-old said he is training hard for the mission, and told CBS that his ‘aim is to have the body of a 30-year-old’ when he goes to space.
Virgin Galactic is working along with Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk’s SpaceX company towards the same goal of being the first to send passengers into space ‘by 2020’ in a new type of race dubbed the ‘billionaire space race’.
The companies want to send people on these short suborbital flights, meaning they wouldn’t get high enough to orbit the earth.
Branson has previously announced dates for this first trip into space, though many have gone by without voyages happening.
In 2013, he declared on a radio station that a Virgin Galactic space flight will be on Christmas Day 2013, and he will be on board. ‘Maybe I’ll dress up as Father Christmas,’ he joked.
Christmas day 2013 came and went without this flight or a sighting of the billionaire in a Santa suit taking place.
In October 2017, he told a Finnish business conference that the craft would be in space in ‘about three months’.
A view from the edge of space is seen from the cockpit of Virgin Galactic’s manned space tourism rocket plane SpaceShipTwo during a space test flight over Mojave, California. Virgin Galactic is working along with Blue Origin, which also belongs to Branson on its way to sending passengers into space ‘by 2020
The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo. Last year, the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo reached the edge of space for the first time, in a milestone accomplishment for Branson’s space tourism endeavours
Speaking at an event in Washington, here, Branson said: ‘My wish is to go up on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, that’s what we’re working on.’. The American Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on July 20th, 1969
Last year, the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo reached the edge of space for the first time, in a milestone accomplishment for Branson’s space tourism endeavours.
The craft reached a boundary more than 50 miles above Earth for the first time, after blasting off on a critical flight test in the Mojave Desert.
In any case, the achievement puts Virgin well ahead of its competitors – Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin – who have yet to carry crew to a point so high using their passenger craft.
Mike Taylor, of the Spaceflight Programme at the UK Space Agency told Mail Online: ‘We are in a new commercial space age, where entrepreneurs not only fuel the imagination but inspire investment.
‘The space sector is a great British success story and we are working closely with industry to ensure we can take advantage of exciting commercial opportunities.
The 69-year-old (center) said he is training hard for the mission, and told CBS that his ‘aim is to have the body of a 30-year-old’ when he goes to space. Virgin Galactic is working along with Blue Origin, which also belongs to Branson on its way to sending passengers into space ‘by 2020’
‘The Government has put in place legislation to make it possible to launch small satellites and conduct sub-orbital flights from the UK and is supporting domestic spaceports, including by providing £31.5 million to help establish launch services from Sutherland in Scotland.’
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceshipTwo can be seen as it takes off for a suborbital test flight of the VSS Unity on December 13, 2018, in Mojave, California. Branson is in a race with SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to be the first to send paying tourists into space
Virgin Galactic, which is charging £190,000 ($250,000) for a spot on one of its commercial flights, has previously said it would send passengers to space in 2019. His new claims time the businessman claims preparations are in their final stages
Branson is in a race with SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to be the first to send paying tourists into space.
Virgin Galactic, which is charging £190,000 ($250,000) for a spot on one of its commercial flights, has previously said it would send passengers to space in 2019.
His new claims time the businessman claims preparations are in their final stages.
‘By July we should have done enough testing,’ he said.
But he doesn’t want to make any promises he can’t keep: ‘I need to wait for our team to say they’re 100 per cent happy. I don’t want to push them,’ he said.
According to Branson, the SpaceShipTwo’s next test flight is planned for February 20, depending on weather conditions.
THE BILLIONAIRE SPACE RACE
Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule
Jeff Bezos’ space tourism project with Blue Origin is competing with a similar programme in development by Space X, the rocket firm founded and run by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Virgin Galactic, backed by Richard Branson.
Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.
The system consists of a pressurised crew capsule atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster rocket.
The richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos is pursuing Blue Origin with vigour as he tries to launch his ‘New Glenn’ rocket into low-Earth orbit by 2020.
Whilst Bezos is yet to leave the atmosphere of Earth, despite several successful launches, Elon Musk’s SpaceX programme has already sent the Falcon Heavy rocket into space.
On February 6 2018, SpaceX sent the rocket towards the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away.
On board was a red Tesla roadster that belonged to Musk himself.
Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule
SpaceX have won several multi-million dollar contracts from Nasa as the space agency hopes to use the rockets as a fast-track for its colonisation of the red planet.
Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic recently successfully conducted a test flight of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity spaceplane.
The flight accelerated to over 1,400 miles per hour (Mach 1.87).
Calling space ‘tantalisingly close’, Branson also said last year that suborbital space in test flights could be happening by this spring.
More than 700 affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips,
The billionaire mogul also said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket firm SpaceX.
Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft
SpaceShipTwo will carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one overhead.
The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.
A climb to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere, at which point SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier aircraft, White Knight II.
The spaceship will then make a sub-orbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 3.5 hours.
‘Today, for the first time in history, a crewed spaceship, built to carry private passengers, reached space,’ Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson said from the flight line after the successful flight. One of the pilots can be seen in the cockpit above during the flight
The aerospace firm’s SpaceShipTwo craft reached a boundary more than 50 miles above Earth on Thursday morning after blasting off on a critical flight test in the Mojave Desert. To do this, the company had to push its rocket motor to the longest burn duration yet, ‘resulting in us going higher than we have before’