Richard Branson: Virgin Galactic to launch space flight 'within weeks'

Richard Branson said Monday his Virgin Galactic will begin space test flights in a matter of weeks. File

Richard Branson said Monday his Virgin Galactic will begin space test flights in a matter of weeks. File

British entrepreneur Richard Branson said Tuesday that his company Virgin Galactic is only a few steps away from the start of a real space flight. "And then we will be in space with myself in months and not years", he said.

"We should be in space within weeks, not months".

Virgin Galactic is the single private space company to have lost people during the development process for its spacecraft. 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.

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

But while Sir Richard believes Musk is "doing fantastically well" in getting cargo into space - including his own auto - the real tussle is between the Virgin boss and Bezos.

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.

But while Sir Richard believes Musk is "doing fantastically well" in getting cargo into space - including his own auto - the real tussle is between the Virgin boss and Bezos.

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

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Earlier this year, the company completed a test flight with its SpaceShipTwo passenger plane. It performed powered test flights in April and May.

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

Virgin Galactic isn't the only private spaceflight services company out there.

A Virgin Galactic spacecraft can accommodate two astronauts who will pilot it, along with six paying passengers.

The first space tourists that have visited in the 2000s, the worldwide space station (ISS), paid tens of millions of dollars for this opportunity.

Last we heard of VSS Unity, it conducted a flight test that took it into the Mesosphere of the planet, 170,800 feet above sea level.

Tourists will spend several minutes floating in zero gravity, aboard a spaceship that approaches or passes through the Karman line, the boundary of Earth's atmosphere and space, some 62 miles (100 kilometers) high. The company expects its New Shepard suborbital vehicle to carry the first space tourists into orbit in 2019.

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