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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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Ordinary people???
By ranran on 9/21/2012 11:14:49 AM , Rating: 2
...ordinary people will be able to have a chance to become astronauts...

Umm... last I checked, "ordinary people" do not have $200k to plop down on a 2hr spaceship tour....

RE: Ordinary people???
By ClownPuncher on 9/21/2012 11:33:42 AM , Rating: 2
More people have the $200k than had the millions it would have taken before. I'm sorry you can't afford it, but... no, I actually don't care.

RE: Ordinary people???
By Ringold on 9/21/2012 8:39:58 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, like many other things throughout human history, the first iteration of certain things are expensive, before that drives the investment, innovation, etc. necessary to drive new iterations that can do more for less.

There's just so much class-warfare, so much hate and envy, that these people see everything through those lenses.

RE: Ordinary people???
By delphinus100 on 9/21/2012 9:09:47 PM , Rating: 2
My notions of 'ordinary people' don't involve that kind of money either, but that's okay. From a business standpoint, it only matters that enough people can and will do it.

And you can't hope for lower prices later, without those early adopters...

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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