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Richard Branson  (Source: thejanedough.com)
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: Ordinary people?
By hartleyb on 9/21/2012 11:32:52 AM , Rating: 4
So far the discussion has been interesting from the nay-sayers to the risk takers. The fact is we do have the capability today to send hundreds, maybe thousands, of people to Mars. Yes, the initial trips would be one way while people build habitats, green houses, and terraforming equipment, but the technology is here and has been for a couple of years. The why is evident in that Mars has an abundance of resources, preservation of the human race, and the expansion of knowledge. As knowledge goes up so does the living conditions of all humanity. As far a Branson goes, he has been the driving force behind the comercial space program, and he puts his money where his mouth is, so while he may be late to the idea, he will most likley be the first to achieve it.


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