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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 aliasfox on 9/21/2012 1:24:36 PM , Rating: 2
A pessimist looks at a goal and asks... why?

An optimist, an engineer, a scientist, an adventurer, a visionary... they all ask 'why not?'

Sometimes, without someone trying to advance us 3 steps at a time, the rest of us wouldn't be able to advance even one step at a time.

Take flight, for example. The Wright brothers had to take nascent ideas in aerodynamics, power to weight ratios, and a barely developed (let alone proven) engine, and turned them into something new. If we had all taken then one step at a time approach, waiting for internal combustion engines to become powerful enough or waiting for aerodynamics to become more developed, we may have had to wait a lot longer.

Maybe Virgin and SpaceX should team up - SpaceX sends fuel, food, and water along the route, and Virgin develops craft that jump along each one until they get to the Moon, Mars, or beyond...

As for a reason why... tourism, for one. No, the price won't be for everyone, but neither were first class suites on ocean liners.

RE: Reality Check
By Strunf on 9/22/2012 12:27:21 PM , Rating: 3
Your quite wrong if you think the Wright brothers just packed everything up and hoped for the best, they first developed their glider and later the propellers and engine to power it, true they didn't wait for others but they still went one step at a time. Bransom is like a Hollywood star that wants to be in the news all the time, why the heck you compare him to Wright brothers when I doubt he even invented anything, the engineers, scientists and others behind all of "his" achievements are non existent for the media.

Who's saying to wait? the fact is that to live on Mars you need to develop a self sustainable environment, this could be done down on earth or even on the moon for a fraction of the costs and with a lot less risks, going to Mars while still being dependent on earth it's for me not much of an achievement, any fool with enough money could probably make it alive to Mars today.

Tourism? it costs 200000$ to send someone 2h into space, how much do you think it would cost sending someone to Mars, chances are not even the richest people on the planet would do it, the moon however would attract just as much tourism at a more reasonable cost, and even a city entirely built under water would be something to visit at least the oceans have more things to see.

RE: Reality Check
By aliasfox on 9/24/2012 9:52:27 AM , Rating: 2
Of course they didn't pack everything and hope for the best, but their end goal wasn't to create the best kite or the best glider - they wanted powered flight. Yes, they needed a plan and engineering to take it one step at a time, but they had an end goal that was fantastic.

It costs $200,000 to send someone into space for two hours... today. You make the assumption that the price will never go down, that increases in scale and recovery of initial costs will never happen. Yes, it's expensive to hop into space, but it will come down within our lifetime - at which point I hope there's something else to take its place at the top of the ladder.

RE: Reality Check
By Jaybus on 9/24/2012 4:01:24 PM , Rating: 2
Leave out the scientist and engineer and I would agree. The scientist is not asking the question why or why not, but rather attempting to answer them. The engineer never asks why or why not, but rather asks how.

"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs

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