Virgin Galactic to be in space 'in weeks,' owner Branson says

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson speaks at a news conference on March 30 in Las Vegas

Branson, who founded Virgin Galactic in 2004, originally promised suborbital flights - those that reach space without orbiting the planet - by 2009.

But Sir Richard has a long history of underestimating the time it takes his firm to get test flights into the air, and the company has repeatedly missed his lofty targets.

Once Virgin Galactic successfully establish its commercial trips to space, Branson plans to reduce the price of the ticket to around $40,000 United States dollars in the next ten years or so. Then "we will be in space with myself in months and not years", the billionaire stated.

"We will be in space with people not too long after that, so we have got a very, very exciting couple of months ahead", the British Virgin founder and CEO went on to say.

Currently, some 700 people are on Virgin Galactic's waiting list - to the tune of $250,000 a ticket - for the company's first commercial flights.

To reach the Karman line, a spaceship has to cruise at an altitude of 100 kilometers above sea level.

The CEO of the popular airline is seeking to make his company the first one to offer consumer flights to space.

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

In fact, Branson once said in an interview that he's "embarrassed" by displays of wealth, like leaving large tips and buying things for "pure luxury". This was a positive step forward after Virgin Galactic's 2014 fatal crash that killed test pilot Michael Alsbury and injured pilot Peter Siebold.

Once released, the spaceship will fire up its rocket, and head for the sky.

Branson, along with Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Tesla's Elon Musk, is determined to bring tourists to space, sooner rather than later.

The program follows a move either this year by Townsville Airport, in far north Queensland, to provide emotional support dogs for nervous travellers.

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.

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