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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 BifurcatedBoat on 9/21/2012 11:20:28 PM , Rating: 2
For this to be feasible, we need to deal with more than simply the spaceflight to move someone there. We basically need to terraform it.

It would probably have to start with some sort of bacteria, that would produce gases to warm the atmosphere, and also break down the rock into soil.

Once sufficiently warm, plants could be transplanted there that would effectively be able to convert the carbon dioxide that the atmosphere is currently made of into oxygen that humans and other animals can breathe.

I believe all of that is doable, but while Richard Branson can hope, I think that it happening in his lifetime is a bit unrealistic. Maybe in 200 years.

RE: Reality Check
By MZperX on 9/24/2012 12:47:23 PM , Rating: 2
You are talking about terraforming Mars which is a much more complex and diffcult task than colonizing it. We basically have zero technology, even in development phase, to Terraform another planet.

At least we have many proven working technologies, and some in early development, that are needed for long term colonization (various rocket propulsion methods, closed loop life support, hydroponics, ISRU, etc.). The kicker is that there are a few problems to which we don't even have good conceptual solutions that look feasible. For instance, technology to mitigate the effects of cosmic radiation during the trip and while on the surface. Another one is the long-term effect of micro-gravity and low gravity (bone density loss, muscle atrophy, etc.) I'm not saying there are no theoretical solutions, just nothing that looks feasible at this time based on cost, mass, or logistics issues.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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