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Virgin Astronauts Coming Soon

Published by Robin on Mon Sep 27, 2004 12:59 pm
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chabot imageBranson prepares to launch Virgin into space
(Filed: 27/09/2004)

Sir Richard Branson has announced a deal, potentially worth £14 million, to secure the world’s first commercial flights to space.
Sir Richard Branson hopes to send 3,000 astronauts to space in five years

He revealed his outer space business venture during a press gathering at the Royal Aeronautical Society in Central London this morning.
The licensing deal with Mojave Aerospace Ventures (MAV), which owns the technology, could be worth millions over the next 15 years depending on the number of spaceships built by Virgin.

Prices for each seat are expected to start at £115,000 with three days’ flight training. Up to 3,000 astronauts could be flying in space over a five-year period.
Sir Richard said: “We hope to create thousands of astronauts over the next few years and bring alive their dream of seeing the majestic beauty of our planet from above, the stars in all their glory and the amazing sensation of weightlessness.

“The development will also allow every country in the world to have their own astronauts rather than the privileged few.”
He was flanked by aviation legend Burt Rutan, who developed the spaceship design. His company, Scaled Composites, have built one and it reached a height of 62 miles in June.

In a separate agreement, MAV is close to finalising a deal with Burt Rutan to use the technology to build spaceships to carry paying passengers on return journeys to the stars for two hours.

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004.

UPDATE: Virgin Atlantic moves into galactic; From Peter Walker in London
Addressing reporters in central London, Branson said that the new firm – Virgin Galactic – would launch its maiden flight in only three years, and that he would be on the very first trip into space.

“Virgin Galactic will be run as a business, but as a business with a sole purpose of making space travel more and more affordable to people throughout the world,” he said.

“We will re-invest the funds raised over the first few years of flight back into the business, striving constantly to lower prices.

“We plan to construct launch pads for commercial space travel in a number of countries over the next few years.”

“Those privileged space pioneers who can afford to take our first flights will not only have the most awesome experience of their lives, but by stepping up to the plate first they will bring the dream of space travel for many millions closer to reality.”

For years, Branson said, he had “dreamt of seeing the beauty of our planet from space”.

He said: “Burt and I will be fortunate enough to have fulfilled our own personal dreams and to experience all of this on the inaugural flight over Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise in three years’ time.”

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