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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: Reality Check
By Jaybus on 9/24/2012 3:37:31 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that the only logical reason to colonize Mars is to prevent an ELE on Earth from extincting humans. However, there is no real reason to believe that it is possible for a Mars colony to survive indefinitely without resupply from Earth. The colonists would have to be able to manufacture, from Mars raw materials, every single part and piece of the colony. This is because the population (of humans AND the many other species of Earth life required for humans to exist) would have to expand from the small confines of a colony, else there would not be enough biodiversity for humans to survive long term. The only real hope, it seems, would be for humans to survive long enough to send a ship back to repopulate Earth after the ELE. We evolved on, and are extremely adapted to, Earth. It is not a given that we can survive long term anywhere else.


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