Richard Branson Wants to Start A Population on Mars
September 21, 2012 12:01 AM
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
as space travel enters an era of commercial flight.
Branson, CEO of Virgin Airlines, discussed his future space plans for both his spaceflight company --
-- 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.
"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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