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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 Reclaimer77 on 9/21/2012 11:55:33 AM , Rating: 2
Okay you completely misunderstand me. I think it's a novel goal, eventually. Stating it's a reality NOW, today, in a middle aged persons lifetime is just impossible. Sorry but it just is.

He's not talking about making the trip, landing some humans, and coming back. He's talking the permanent colonization of Mars. Do you have any idea what that entails?

The Moon is the logical place for this to happen first. For many logical reasons. It's more stable and less harsh. There we could learn valuable lessons in food cultivation in alien environments, water and waste reclamation. Oxygen generation (a BIG one), etc etc. And you aren't 7 months away if something goes to hell and you need a rescue!

I'm not saying don't plan for it or whatever. I'm just saying lets be a little realistic. You make this task, colonizing Mars, seem like a trip down to the Quickie Mart and back. We couldn't even land that probe on Mars with 100% confidence!

RE: Reality Check
By lightfoot on 9/21/2012 12:52:18 PM , Rating: 2
He's not talking about making the trip, landing some humans, and coming back. He's talking the permanent colonization of Mars. Do you have any idea what that entails?

Actually permanent colonization is easier than returning from Mars.

Getting humans to Mars would almost definitely be a one-way trip. The only real question is do you want to make a serious effort at allowing those humans to survive or not. If you do, you are already talking about a permanent colony.

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