Virgin to launch space tourism in 18 months: Branson

Sep 27, 2010
Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson gives the thumbs up in front of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, the world's first commercial spacecraft for tourists, at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California on December 7, 2009. Branson said Monday that Virgin Galactic is on track to offer commercial space travel within 18 months, and that space hotels are next on the drawing board.

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson said Monday that Virgin Galactic is on track to offer commercial space travel within 18 months, and that space hotels are next on the drawing board.

The project's SpaceshipTwo, an aircraft built by aviation engineer Burt Rutan and designed to carry paying customers into suborbital space, had its maiden flight in the California desert in March.

"We just finished building SpaceShipTwo. We are 18 months away from taking people into space," Branson told a business conference in Kuala Lumpur, adding that the fare will start at 200,000 dollars.

Virgin Galactic, which aims to become the world's first commercial company to promote , has already collected 45 million dollars in deposits from more than 330 people who have reserved seats aboard the six-person craft.

Branson also has visions of establishing hotels in space, which well-heeled tourists can use as a base for shuttle flights over the moon.

"We are looking at hotels in space. We love the moon," the tycoon said, adding that he was also interested in launching "small satellites into space" for the benefit of schools and universities.

Under Branson's brainchild scheme, the SpaceshipTwo craft is to be launched into space with the help of mothership White Knight Two (WK2).

WK2 will carry SpaceshipTwo to an altitude of around 16 kilometres (50,000 feet) before dropping the smaller and allowing it to fire up its rocket motor to blast up to the brink of space.

Once it has reached suborbital space, SpaceShipTwo passengers will be able to view the Earth from portholes next to their seats, or unbuckle their seatbelts and float in zero gravity.

Branson has a 20 percent stake in Malaysia-based long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X which flies to Asia and Europe.

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User comments : 15

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Szkeptik
5 / 5 (6) Sep 27, 2010
Great dreams, and I'd love to buy a seat if I were rich enough, but space hotels and moon hotels are a completely different thing. Those won't be the next step by any means. Those are at least a hundred steps away from this.
Wildan_Maulana
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Every Marvelous thing is started with a 'great' dream :)
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2010
Great dreams, and I'd love to buy a seat if I were rich enough, but space hotels and moon hotels are a completely different thing. Those won't be the next step by any means. Those are at least a hundred steps away from this.

But now it's only 100 steps, and not "it'll never work so we won't attempt it."
LariAnn
3 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2010
If a freight version of SpaceshipTwo is deployed, perhaps it can be used to ferry construction materials for the space hotel, using the ISS as a base camp for the construction workers. It may require the addition of another module to the ISS to accommodate the work crews that will be rotated regularly until the space hotel is complete. Of course, if a motor hotel is called a "motel", then a rocket hotel should be a "rotel" . . . :-)
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
You won't see the ISS utilized for this endeavor at all, that is unless the ESA wants to sell it off.
yyz
5 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2010
When will Branson take a trip? Surely he's not going to wait until after the first paying customer. Same for Burt Rutan (who's pushing 68: http://en.wikiped...rt_Rutan ). It's his baby, after all.
Oliver_k_Manuel
5 / 5 (6) Sep 27, 2010
If a freight version of SpaceshipTwo is deployed, perhaps it can be used to ferry construction materials for the space hotel, using the ISS as a base camp for the construction workers.


The SpaceShipTwo has a capacity to carry six space tourists and two pilots into suborbital space at speeds up to 2500 mph and soar about 65-miles above the Earth, to get into orbit it would need to be much faster
Buyck
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Space toerism becomes reality very soon! Not only spaceflight but also spending a week or a few days in spacehotel and so on. Spaceport Amerika will be the homebase for the Virgin Galactic fleet (see link below).

Some construction pictures of the first privat spaceport in Amerika:

http://www.spacep...tus.html
Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Where can I sign up to be a "test passenger" before the millionaires risk their lives?
Bob_B
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Will each passenger get their own cabin? I'd really hate riding with puke all around from other passengers who can't hold it in.
JeffJohnson17
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Great dreams, and I'd love to buy a seat if I were rich enough, but space hotels and moon hotels are a completely different thing. Those won't be the next step by any means. Those are at least a hundred steps away from this.


Except there already is one unmanned space hotel in orbit now. Check out Bigelow Aerospace.
Space is opening up to the private sector at long last!
Possibilus
5 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2010
Have no problem with Virgin/Scaled Composites reaching sub-orbital space, but to talk about hotels and such, Spaceship2 would have to have heavy heat shielding of some sort for re-entry temperatures that it is just not built for...which means Branson is conceding the orbital capacity and fares to others with more conventional rocket designs...unless Rutan has another trick up his sleeve...
LuckyBrandon
1 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2010
i still say the same thing I've said before...this seems like a half assed effort...if you go through the trouble to build something to get to sub-orbit, why not do it all the way and get to an actual orbit...if i were to spend in the 100s of thousands of dollars to take the trip, it should at least be a weekend getaway...

@lariann-the ISS is too small to even comprehend doing that...

MarkyMark
not rated yet Sep 28, 2010
Well its a small step for commercial scaled space.

Seems Branson will be the first so i guess yay for British buisness. Next step is to develop a version that is affordable for joe public. Then with the cash from thid develop an actuall orbitall ship that can carry cargo.
CaptBarbados
not rated yet Oct 02, 2010
Like any good entrepreneur (which he is), Branson's quest is to encourage space commercialization. In the process, it should be able to pay its own way.

How novel!