Things are moving quickly for Virgin Galactic. The world’s first commercial space tourism company has gone from strength to strength since developing Scaled Composite’s X-Prize-winning space ship design into Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. Now, as Virgin Galactic is well on its way to building the world’s first space port in the New Mexico desert, Richard Branson discusses his vision the company’s direction and very exciting future.
In a video interview by the Telegraph Online, Richard Branson shows why he’s best guy to be at the helm of Virgin Galactic: he has a vision. So far, the development of Virgin Galactic has been astonishing, but then again, having an international company as successful as Virgin supporting it, there is room for huge aspirations.
Among the first space tourists to fly Virgin Galactic will be Richard himself, his 90 year old parents and two kids. In successive flights, big names such as Stephen Hawking have been sent their Â£100,000 ($200,000) tickets. Hawking has already been taken up in a parabolic flight (the “vomit comet” as used for astronaut zero-gravity training), and according to Branson, Hawking passed with flying colors.
In his interview, Branson discusses his hopes for the future. In one plan he hopes Virgin will establish a space hotel where people can use as a base and take tours on automated spacecraft to the Moon and back. The additional possibility of using the SpaceShipTwo concept as a means to transport passengers around the globe is especially interesting. The flight from London to Sydney would only take 30 minutes for a vehicle traveling into a low-Earth orbit, and emissions from such a plan would be at a minimum (almost nil when compared with the current long-haul jet flights that burn tons of fuel).
Interestingly the Virgin boss briefly mentions colonization (but stops at where he was thinking about colonizing), citing the ever present threat of a global catastrophe as reason enough to live beyond the Earth. So, will the first commercial Mars colonial spaceships be red and branded “Virgin Galactic“? Watch this space…