by Graham Pierrepoint
Space travel and exploration really does seem to be back on the menu lately. Thanks to the work of people such as Elon Musk and SpaceX, who are looking to try and colonize the various worlds around us in the decades to come, and of course NASA – who continue to expand our knowledge of what is still an extraordinarily mysterious universe – it’s a very exciting time to have your head in all things space-related. One of those people who is most interested is, of course, Richard Branson – who continues to intend to extend his Virgin empire into the outer reaches as soon as possible.
Branson, the multi-billionaire entrepreneur who has turned Virgin to just about everything over the years – air travel, cola, video games, credit cards, gambling sites – has always intended to bring space tourism to the masses, and it seems that his mooted Virgin Galactic plans are set to do just that. In fact, Branson himself plans to leave Earth through such technology sooner than many may have expected. Branson hopes to be up in the stratosphere and beyond within six months – and that Virgin Galactic itself is still on target to see launch by the end of 2018. He’s remained hugely optimistic, advising that his ‘love of space’ is spurring the project on.
Space tourism is no new thing – let’s face it, it’s been a sci-fi staple for decades now – and it really does seem as if Branson and Virgin have the moxie and the power to bring it into the realms of reality. The Galactic project has sadly seen a few setbacks in recent years, but this hasn’t stopped an A-Lister studded first flight from signing up to see the stars – there’s over 700 people having signed their names up to potentially fly with Virgin Galactic for the first time, and among them is Prof Stephen Hawking – arguably the world’s foremost respected author on time and space. This alone is surely a huge selling point for Virgin Galactic – if the author of ‘A Brief History of Time’ wants to fly with them, it must be worth a look!
Branson is confident about Virgin Galactic but an exact timeframe for launch will remain to be seen. A-List stars such as Brad Pitt who have signed up for the maiden voyage have reportedly paid somewhere in the region of $250,000 to go beyond Earth and into the stars themselves – but really – can you blame them? Stay tuned for more news on space tourism as we know it!