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Richard Branson  (Source:
His spaceflight company, Virgin Galactic, is set to start making commercial flights in a year

Richard Branson is hoping to be one of the first humans to populate Mars as space travel enters an era of commercial flight.

Branson, CEO of Virgin Airlines, discussed his future space plans for both his spaceflight company -- Virgin Galactic -- and his potential settlement on Mars.

Possibly in the next year, Virgin Galactic will lead the shift into commercial spaceflight, taking anyone who can pay $200,000 on a two-hour trip beyond Earth.

"It's going to be absolutely incredible because finally people...ordinary people will be able to have a chance to become astronauts, go into space," said Branson. "There are only 500 people who have ever been into space. They are the privileged astronauts...we just want to enable people to become astronauts and experience it."

He went on to say that "hundreds of thousands" of people will take part in the commercial space program. In fact, Branson and his children will be the first people on a Virgin Galactic flight next year.

Commercial spaceflight comes at a time when U.S. government space agency NASA has retired its space shuttle fleet and temporarily suspended a way for American astronauts to get to the International Space Station (except via Russian Soyuz rockets). This is where the private sector has stepped in, where companies like California-based SpaceX has since shipped its Dragon capsule to the ISS for the delivery of supplies. Virgin Galactic is another member of the private space sector, but it is focusing more on commercial flights that anyone can take.

Branson went on to describe the future of American spaceflight, saying that people will eventually settle on Mars -- and he hopes to be one of the first.

"In my lifetime, I'm determined to being apart of starting a population on Mars," said Branson. "I think it is absolutely realistic. It will happen."

Branson isn't alone in dreams of life on Mars. SpaceX is also developing a reusable orbital launch system that would make spaceflight affordable and permanent Mars settlement a reality.

Source: CBS News

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RE: Reality Check
By ritualm on 9/21/2012 10:17:09 AM , Rating: 2
It's not that complicated. We have the technology and know-how to get there. We just don't have the political will to make it happen.

As it stands, nuclear-powered rocket propulsion remains off the table because of OMFG Not-In-My-BackYard sentiment and unwillingness to start Space Race 2.0. But the fact is, if you want to colonize anything past the Moon, you either go nuclear or go home. Your very own Voyager 1 probe is proof why nuclear is necessary. Damn thing is still running after 30 years, there is no reason why we can't do the same.

"It's a huge, expensive, and risky task."
That's right, great rewards are offered for people who take great risks, quitter.

RE: Reality Check
By NellyFromMA on 9/21/2012 10:33:50 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, first off didn't I say its a great goal? So where do you get off calling me a quitter. I'm just saying, your view is OVERLY ambitious and ignores the realities of the situation. There are many rweasons we aren't there yet, and its not JUST because of the poltical willpower.

Frankly, there are more important things. Next time maybe don't name call and we can actual have a discussion..

"That's right, great rewards are offered for people who take great risks, quitter. "
You know who else thinks that way? Crappy gamblers.

Food for thought.

RE: Reality Check
By ritualm on 9/21/2012 10:46:18 AM , Rating: 1
"There are many reasons we aren't there yet, and its not JUST because of the political willpower."

OVERLY ambitious? Google Apophis and then tell me if we shouldn't be OVERLY ambitious, quitter.

The fact that we don't want to colonize Mars and beyond by throwing around these BS arguments is proof we're getting too complacent and so risk-averse, we actually want to see our first human explorers and settlers return from those planets instead of going there without a return ticket.

USA wouldn't exist today if British settlers refuse to set sail for the New World without a return ticket.

RE: Reality Check
By NellyFromMA on 9/21/2012 12:50:59 PM , Rating: 2
wow, I've met some opinionated people and dealt with a few on here, but never someone viciouslly opinionated about colonozing another planet.

Once again, for you, I will re-state that going to Mars and perhaps colonizing it is a great goal.

Do I prioritize it above, oh I don't know, solving some problems on OUR planet? No.

Sorry if you disagree, I won't call you names for it. I can't quit something I haven't started.

RE: Reality Check
By aliasfox on 9/21/2012 2:29:48 PM , Rating: 2
We chose to go to the moon and do those other things not because they were easy, but because they were hard.

One year after we make it into space, the US set that goal for. Sixteen months between Alan Shepard going up and Kennedy telling us that we would make it to a destination 240,000 miles away. Not at some unknown point in the future, but by the end of the decade.

If you set large goals, you may end up with large achievements. If you set small goals, you will always end up with small achievements.

The human race hasn't achieved its greatest feats of advancement by setting small goals.

RE: Reality Check
By Ringold on 9/21/2012 8:22:35 PM , Rating: 2
Do I prioritize it above, oh I don't know, solving some problems on OUR planet? No.

There will always be some poor people; no legislation can fix human nature, nor can the US dictate policy to the rest of the world.

There will always be human conflict; again, this goes back to human nature.

There's always going to be something wrong happening on Earth; that's no excuse not to multi-task, particularly when the R&D and infrastructure that gets built in the process has historically been beneficial, not to mention the scientific knowledge gained in the process. Considering we could double NASA's budget and it'd still be a rounding error on the federal budget's books, I don't see a problem.

Make me dictator for a day, and I'd quadruple it. Then I'd piss a lot of people off by forcing consolidation and thus closing probably 2/3 of NASA's far-flung facilities, but still, I'd quadruple it. At least.

RE: Reality Check
By Reclaimer77 on 9/22/2012 8:06:48 AM , Rating: 2
Google Apophis and then tell me if we shouldn't be OVERLY ambitious, quitter.

I just saw this lol. First off Apophis isn't a global killer. Not nearly. If you believe we can colonize Mars today, then you should be equally confident we can destroy or prevent Apophis from hitting Earth entirely.

So you're optimistic about colonizing a planet completely inhospitable to humans, but are scared of a little rock two football fields long??

Colonizing the Moon and building a future staging area for deep space flights would be optimistic. What you propose is fantasy.

p.s Given that ships have to be designed around breaking Earth's orbit, and 90% of a ships fuel goes into doing just that, a Moon base first makes a LOT of sense. We cannot seriously tackle the task of setting up a colony on Mars if every launch takes place on Earth.

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