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

Virgin Galactic to Make First Space Trip

Virgin Galactic | Roderick Eime

Virgin Galactic is "weeks away" from sending one of its rockets into space for the first time, according to founder and chairman Sir Richard Branson.

"Soon after that we will send into space people, so we will have a very interesting few months ahead".

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

The next logical step is reaching space in the craft.

To prepare for his maiden voyage, Branson said, he's been training rigorously: cycling, playing tennis and spending time in a centrifuge to acquaint his body with the gravitational forces of space. In 2014, an early version of a Virgin Galactic spacecraft pulled apart and crashed during a test flight over the Mojave, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury.

"Out of ten people in the room, eight would go into space if I could afford it", - said the billionaire.

Virgin Spaceship Unity and Virgin Mothership Eve take to the skies on its first captive carry flight in 2016.

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We'll believe it once we see it; we've heard these sorts of predictions - and gone through a seemingly never-ending stream of failed timelines - many times before.

The Virgin Galactic boss has been investing in space travel since 2004 and he had hopes that he would be able to go to space himself sometime before April of this year. But while the company has been signing up space tourists - some 800 customers have paid $250,000 for a return ticket on Virgin Galactic since the company's inception - it is yet to travel to space.

Virgin Galactic has so far this year completed three successful rocket-powered test flights of its latest SpaceShipTwo plane, VSS Unity, but the vehicle has yet to be tested at the target altitude of 62 miles.

The company first promised sub-orbital spaceflight trips for tourists by the start of 2009.

Smiling Mind CEO Dr Addie Wooten said: "As little as a couple of minutes of meditation can improve our overall sense of calm and wellbeing during a flight".

Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has said it aims for test flights by the end of 2018.

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