Branson: Virgin space project keeps being delayed

October 24, 2012

(AP)—British billionaire Richard Branson says his space tourism project keeps being pushed back and isn't sure of an exact date for the first launch.

He says it will be at least another 12 or 18 months before the Virgin Galactic venture can offer paid space travel to adventurers.

The founder of the met with students on his first visit to Poland on Wednesday, where he came to launch Virgin Academy, which will help young people kick start their own businesses.

Asked about Virgin Galactic, Branson said he has "stopped counting" days to the launch because it gets delayed "to the next year, to the next year."

More than 100 would-be space tourists have signed up for the $200,000 two-hour trips that go 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth.

Explore further: Virgin aims for first space launch within a year


Related Stories

New Mexico to be site of spaceport

December 13, 2005

Officials from the London-based Virgin Galactic and New Mexico say they've signed an agreement to build a $200 million spaceport.

Virgin tycoon Branson invests in Square

November 8, 2011

Square, a start-up from a co-founder of Twitter, said Tuesday that Virgin tycoon Richard Branson has invested in the mobile payments company.

Recommended for you

SpaceX to launch classified US govt payload Sunday

April 29, 2017

SpaceX on Sunday is scheduled to make its first military launch, with a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, which makes and operates spy satellites for the United States.

Is dark matter 'fuzzy'?

April 28, 2017

Astronomers have used data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to study the properties of dark matter, the mysterious, invisible substance that makes up a majority of matter in the universe. The study, which involves 13 ...

Hubble's bright shining lizard star

April 28, 2017

In space, being outshone is an occupational hazard. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image captures a galaxy named NGC 7250. Despite being remarkable in its own right—it has bright bursts of star formation and recorded ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (7) Oct 24, 2012
So what?

There are nowhere near enough people on Earth who have enough income or net worth to pay for the flights so as to ever pay back the cost of his projects, much of which has come from public funding.

Is he secretly involved in a government black project and using this as the cover?

The entire scheme makes no economic sense in any paradigm I can conceive, because the cost of launch is so high he will only make a few dollars profit per launch, but it would take millions of launches to ever pay back the full investment.

If he was attempting to building a mining colony or something useful and productive, I'd be all for it, but the space tourism thing is awful.

100 * $200,000 = $20,000,000 = chump change compared to the investment of the tax payers.

He's basically bilking the state and federal government for billions in what amounts to a ponzi scheme.
4 / 5 (4) Oct 24, 2012
Given the minor cost of operation and low costs of the fuels and propulsion systems involved, combined with the almost complete reusability of this vehicle configuration, it does make economic sense and that is why he got in the business in the first place.

As with any new capability (which in this case is desired): if the price is right (which it is), private people and governmental bodies alike will come to use and pay for this capability.

Hence, this space tourism thingy is funded on sound economic reasoning. The only problem with the business model is: 'human scepticism'; but that has never scared of the (rich) early adaptors and visionary crowd, which has always existed and has seemingly already bought a ticket. Other thrill seekers with deep pockets (of which there are a lot) who want the vehicle to become a little more proven will not hesitate to buy a ticket once it is.
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 24, 2012
@Lurker-- Can you enlighten me on the 'billions' bilked from state and federal governments? Other than the lease arrangements made with New Mexico for their eventual Virgin 'spaceport', I am not aware of any public funds going to Branson. Paul Allen provided the original seed money, and from what I've read private investment is funding the rest.
1 / 5 (2) Oct 25, 2012
There was a discussion about this a few weeks ago in another article, in which it was shown that he has in fact been paid large sums by the state and federal government.

The sums were some very large amounts as well, though I don't remember exactly, but it was quite literally many billions of dollars, with a B.

It was another Branson/space tourism article recently published here.

I was not the first to bring up the topic.

It's not sound economic reasoning, because there aren't enough people wealthy enough to ever pay for enough tickets for it to be profitable given the amounts of money being poured into the project.

It's insane.
1 / 5 (2) Oct 25, 2012
The spaceport alone was paid by tax payers from Arizona, and Branson's firm ONLY pays 1 million dollars per year for lease. The cost of the project so far to the tax payers has been over $200 million dollars, for the port alone.

This is just one piece of the puzzle, because it doesn't include all the other contributions to the program. Where is all the R&D money coming from for the technologies? It's coming from government. There aren't any private or corporate investors dumb enough to fall for this, at least I hope not.

Do you realize that just to pay for the port itself would require 1000 passengers at $200,000 per ticket?!

Regardless, the people who have invested, government or not, are going to get burned.

Whenever you run out of professional atheletes, entertainers, and the few truly "wealthy" business people, who else is going to pay $200,000 for a 3 minute experience?

I wouldn't pay that if I had it.

I wouldn't pay that if I won the lottery. It would be immoral.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.